Lula Backs Rousseff for Second Term

By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has reiterated his support for Brazil’s incumbent president, Dilma Rousseff, to run for a second term in office in the 2014 presidential elections. Lula told friends that he has no intention of running in an attempt to dispel speculation that he was planning on making a presidential comeback.

Ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and incumbent President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil News

Ex-President Lula was instrumental in getting Dilma Rousseff to the Planalto, and both remain popular with the electorate, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR.

The extremely popular former president, who won the 2002 and the 2006 president elections, said he would help ensure that President Rousseff, a fellow PT (Workers’ Party) member, is re-elected next year.

Although President Rousseff enjoys strong approval rates in her own right, Maria do Socorro Sousa Braga, a political scientist at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) in São Paulo state, says Lula’s backing will still be vital in 2014, “[Lula’s] support still carries significant weight for a great majority of the Brazilian electorate.”

“The government’s performance has helped the party maintain extremely high levels of popularity,” she explained to The Rio Times.

PT has been instrumental in restructuring the public’s perception of the political left and the party’s developing of social and economic policies that have lifted as many as 35 million out of extreme poverty have proved largely popular.

Presidents in Brazil can only serve two consecutive four-year terms in office, but may later return, giving rise to questions of Lula returning in 2014. This week will see a big event in São Paulo to mark ten years of PT in power and promote Rousseff’s candidacy for a second term in office and publicly bury rumors of a Lula comeback.

At the event in São Paulo, where the party won the hotly-contested mayoral race last year, Lula will attempt to unite PT and allied parties, as well as reviewing PT’s achievements over the past decade and discussing the challenges both the party and the country as a whole face in the future. It will act as the first in a series of seminars in thirteen state capitals, including in Rio, most of which are expected to be attended by the president in an unofficial start to her re-election campaign.

Ex-President Lula and former Chief of Staff José Dirceu, Brazil News

The Mensalão scandal saw Lula’s former Chief of Staff José Dirceu sentenced to over ten years in prison, but did little to affect Lula’s popularity, photo by José Cruz/ABr.

One of the soar-points in the party’s recent past – the cash-for-votes Mensalão scandal – is unlikely to get a mention, however, as it led to a number of party members being convicted of crimes, including corruption and misappropriation of public funds.

The man convicted of being at the center of the scandal, Lula’s former Chief of Staff José Dirceu, who was handed down a ten-year prison sentence but has yet to serve it, will be present at the PT event in São Paulo. An appearance many will be watching with interest as the party leaders work to manage public perception.

Political analysts believe Rousseff’s style of leadership, less charismatic but more managerial, has won her widespread support and her speedy reaction to the many corruption scandals that have left other party members fired or facing prison have meant the president has escaped unscathed and gained the image of a president that has fought to clean up politics.

A return for former President Lula to the presidential race would, for many, represent the party playing its “trump card” – to be used if Rousseff were unable to win the election. However, with both President Rousseff and Lula’s approval rating remains around seventy percent, analysts believe either could win the election.

According to Ms. Braga, other parties’ candidates might include: Aécio Neves (PSDB); Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB); Maria Silva (from the new Rede Sustentabilidade); Eduardo Campos (PSB); Michel Temer (PMDB).

11 Responses to "Lula Backs Rousseff for Second Term"

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  2. the curmudgeon  February 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    If the economy continues to worsen, PT will ditch Dilma in a New York Minute and go with Lula — Again! Dilma is not popular with the PT leadership, partly because of her dislike for the sleaze in which PT wallowed during Lula’s reign, and partly because she’s a very strict boss who publicly chastises underlings. In other words, she’s a terrible politician.
    So, just as the Roman Catholic Church will want a new Pope who feels at home in the Curia, notwithstanding its sleazier aspects, PT will want a President who feels at home with the party faithful, notwithstanding their general sleaziness. That’s Lula!

  3. Edward  February 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    “The man convicted of being at the center of the scandal, Lula’s former Chief of Staff José Dirceu, who was handed down a ten-year prison sentence but has yet to serve it,” Why is this accepted??

    Once Brazilians get the real bill for the Olympics the economy will nosedive and no one will want to be president.

  4. Jas  March 8, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Currently, aside from Iceland and some Scandanavian countries, Brazil has one of the strongest perfoming economies in the world. In contrast, the Eurozone just posted record unemployment, with Spain leading the charge at near 25% unemployment. The US just released 4th quarter GDP growth at 0.1%–anemic to say the least, although the unemployment rate dropped to an official 7.7% (which does not include, by the way, people who have given up looking for work or the underemployed, which is a significant chunk). The adjusted wages for workers in the US are at a 40 year low. The commenters above who cheer the fall of the Brazilain economy need to look around at what is happening in this big, interconnected world of ours.

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