L’ad had the effect of a bomb. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva can now face Jair Bolsonaro in the 2022 presidential election, after a Supreme Court judge on Monday (March 8) overturned all his corruption convictions and restored him to his political rights . This decision propels the icon of the Brazilian left back into the political arena, in a Brazil more polarized than ever after two years in office of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Judge Edson Fachin ruled that the court in Curitiba (South) which had convicted Lula in four trials was “not competent” to judge these cases. These will now be tried in a federal court in Brasilia. In the meantime, the former president (2003-2010) recovers his political rights and can run for a third term.
The only one capable of beating Bolsonaro in 2022?
“Innocent Lula”, reacted soberly on Twitter the Workers’ Party (PT), a leftist formation co-founded in 1980 by Lula, who for his part remained silent. The former president, aged 75, had already served a year and a half in prison for corruption, from April 2018 to November 2019, before being released by collegial decision of the Supreme Court. At the time he was imprisoned, the former head of state was given the polls favorite for the October 2018 presidential election. Two and a half years later, in a recent poll, Lula appears to be the only one capable of beating Jair Bolsonaro in the next election, in 2022: 50% of those questioned said they were ready to vote for him, against 44% for the outgoing president.
The Sao Paulo Stock Exchange fell more than 4% shortly after the news of the judge’s decision which caused cringe in business circles. Several allies of Jair Bolsonaro have criticized the annulment of the sentences of Lula, considered “revolting” by the right-wing deputy Bibo Nunes of the Social Liberal Party (PSL). “Lula candidate! Brazil has succumbed, we will have to endure the euphoria of the antifas and the communists, ”wrote for his part on Twitter Coronel Tadeu, another parliamentarian of the same formation.
New twists to come?
But the leaders of the PT preferred to remain cautious, fearing new twists and turns in the judicial soap opera around Lula which has held the Brazilians in suspense for years. “We are awaiting the legal analysis of the decision of Judge Fachin, who admitted five years late that Sergio Moro should never have tried Lula,” said Gleisi Hofman, president of the party, on Twitter. She alludes to Judge Moro, a leading figure in the fight against corruption in Brazil, whose conviction at first instance of Lula in July 2017 was the main feat of arms. He later became Minister of Justice under Jair Bolsonaro, before resigning with a bang in April 2020.
The convictions of Lula in Curitiba, as part of the anti-corruption operation “Lavage express” had already been discredited in recent months, the impartiality of judges and prosecutors having been questioned by exchanges of messages unveiled by the site The Intercept Brasil. Lula was notably accused of receiving bribes to favor construction companies in the awarding of public contracts, in particular linked to the state oil company Petrobras.
The first sentence, of 10 years and 8 months’ imprisonment, concerned a triplex apartment by the sea that Lula had allegedly received from one of these construction companies. The second involved renovations financed by two building groups on a rural property in Atibaia, in the state of Sao Paulo (South-East). These two convictions were confirmed on appeal. He was also convicted at first instance in two cases for alleged irregularities in donations made by companies to the Lula Institute.