SAO PAULO – The two people carrying the banner of jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva into Brazil’s 2018 presidential election said on Tuesday that they are confident of prevailing in any scenario.
Fernando Haddad, the erstwhile Sao Paulo mayor chosen by Lula’s Workers Party (PT) as its vice-presidential candidate, and Manuela d’Avila, briefly the Brazilian Communist Party standard-bearer for the 2018 vote, made their first joint public appearance since the parties announced that they would campaign in Lula’s stead.
Last Saturday, the PT formally nominated the 72-year-old Lula, who remains Brazil’s most popular politician and leads in the polls, as its 2018 presidential nominee.
The following day, the PT entered negotiations with the Communists and the marathon talks produced agreement on a plan for D’Avila to abandon her candidacy and campaign with Haddad on Lula’s behalf.
PT sources acknowledge that if Lula’s name is kept off the ballot, Haddad will take his place as presidential candidate and D’Avila will become his running mate.
“Haddad and I are prepared to prevail in any scenario,” Davila, 36, told a press conference at Communist Party headquarters in Sao Paulo.
Haddad and D’Avila continued to back Lula’s candidacy and presented a complex roadmap in case he is allowed to contest the election.
According to that plan, the PT will register the Lula-Haddad ticket on Aug. 15, but if the electoral court finally allows the former president to contest the election, the former mayor will step aside and D’Avila will be the vice-presidential candidate.
“We are promoting a project personified by the greatest leader in the history of this country,” said Haddad, who was education minister between 2005-2012.
In July 2017, Lula was found guilty of accepting bribes in exchange for helping Brazilian construction company OAS obtain lucrative contracts from state oil giant Petrobras and sentenced to nine years and six months in prison.
On Jan. 24, an appeals court voted unanimously to uphold that earlier verdict and to increase Lula’s prison sentence to 12 years and one month.
The case against Lula, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing, is based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted as part of a sprawling investigation into a bribes-for-inflated-contracts scheme centered on Petrobras.
Lula, a one-time lathe operator and union leader, governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011 and left office with sky-high approval ratings.
Jurists say a 2010 Brazilian law known as Ficha Limpa (Clean Record) clearly states that a defendant whose conviction has been upheld by an appellate court is barred from competing for public office for eight years.