SAO PAULO – The head of Brazil’s Workers Party (PT), Gleisi Hoffmann, said on Friday that the veto against the presidential candidacy of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, currently serving a sentence on a corruption conviction, has “destabilized” the electoral process ahead of the Oct. 7 balloting.
“The severity of what is happening in Brazil is enormous. We are concerned about what could happen in the elections. Barring Lula has destabilized the electoral process from the start,” Hoffmann said during an event in Sao Paulo.
The head of the PT inaugurated the “Threats to Democracy and the Multipolar World” conference, organized by the Perseu Abramo Foundation and attended by several former European leaders, including Dominique de Villepin and Massimo D’Alema, former primer ministers of France and Italy.
The former prime minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, is also expected to attend the event, as well as several prominent intellectuals and academics, like the US linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky.
Hoffmann said that Brazil has lacked a “democratic normality” ever since then-President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in 2016 for minor administrative irregularities, while insisting that the corruption investigation against Lula was politically motivated to prevent him from running as president this year.
“We aren’t sure if this election will transpire as a normal election. It will depend on the PT’s results. Even if we have good results, we could still be subject to other forms of intervention,” Hoffmann said.
The PT had insisted until the very last moment to maintain Lula as its presidential candidate, who has been in jail since April serving a 12-year prison sentence for a corruption conviction.
Lula’s numerous appeals to overturn his conviction were denied and, on Sept. 1, his candidacy was vetoed by the Superior Electoral Tribunal due to a law that prohibits people who have been convicted to run for office.
The former Brazilian president is the country’s most popular politician and was leading the polls with close to 40 percent of the intended vote.
Lula was replaced by Sao Paulo former Mayor Fernando Haddad, while Manuela D’Avila, a member of the Communist Party of Brazil, will be his running mate.
“We have to draw attention to what is happening in Brazil, because what happens here could impact the rest of Latin America,” Hoffmann said.
Less than a month ahead of the election, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls, with around 26 percent of the intended vote, while Haddad is far behind at 8 percent, though he hopes to garner the backing of Lula’s supporters.