The decision of a federal appellate court to confirm a corruption and money laundering conviction against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva didn’t catch many people off guard. Analyzing the court’s track record of tough verdicts, most analysts and political actors were expecting that outcome. What did surprise many – including Lula’s Workers’ Party – was just how harsh the three-judge panel was: not only did the judges confirm the conviction, but they also raised the sentence by 2 and a half years to a total of 12 years and 1 month.
While Lula does have some appeals at his disposal, the more likely scenario will be his exclusion from the 2018 presidential race. The former president currently leads all polls, and would easily win if the election were held today. Of course, it won’t be. And Lula’s complicated legal status puts his party in a very uncomfortable situation. Hit by successive corruption scandals, it has been electorally shrinking for the past few elections – and the loss of its most important leader could spell doom for the political family.
According to Brazil’s Clean Record Law, candidates with convictions across multiple levels of justice, such as Lula, are ineligible to run for office. Ironically, the law was signed by Lula himself back in 2010. However, being declared ineligible doesn’t mean that Lula is out of the political landscape.