During its national convention this weekend, the Workers’ Party launched – for the sixth time – Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as the party’s presidential candidate. In prison since April 7, the former president is still leading all polls, with his voting intentions ranging from 30 to 40 percent. This unlikely union of incarceration and popularity makes Lula the deciding factor heading into the campaign season. However, we won’t know for sure until September if his name will be on the ballot on October 7.
There are two possible paths for Lula to be granted the right to run for a third presidential term – and both depend on the Supreme Court. His first option is to go to the Supreme Court once the Electoral Justice system denies his candidacy registration. Lula’s workaround would involve trying to suspend his sentence (a criminal, not electoral, issue).
Lula’s legal options
In Brazil, individuals’ political rights are suspended after a criminal conviction. However, that happens only after all appeal routes have been exhausted. Lula’s case, despite the fact that he has been in jail since April 7, has not reached that point yet – as he still has appeals remaining at Brazil’s two highest courts, the Superior Justice Tribunal and the Supreme Court. A final guilty verdict would only come after – and if – he loses those appeals.