Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Politics
QuickTake

How Even a Convicted Lula Might Sway Brazilian Politics

Attendees arrive for the 38th Anniversary celebration of the Workers' Party (PT) event in Sao Paulo.

Attendees arrive for the 38th Anniversary celebration of the Workers' Party (PT) event in Sao Paulo.

Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg
Updated on
From

Eight years after leaving office, and nine months after his conviction on corruption charges, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was handed an arrest warrant on April 5, with the order to hand himself over to the authorities by 5 p.m. on Friday. His chances of returning to power, as he has vowed to do, are close to zero. But the story isn’t over. The Supreme Court may sit yet again to review imprisonment rules more broadly that could impact Lula. Also, the Superior Electoral Court will only rule if he can run for office should he register to do so in August. Many are wondering whether his power to influence public opinion would be stronger in jail or on the campaign trail.

Probably not. He no longer has a clean criminal record, a prerequisite for election candidates since 2010. There have been exceptions to this law, although not at a federal level. If Lula registers to run for office by the August 15 deadline, the Superior Electoral Court will review his case. It’s likely to rule his candidacy ineligible under the so-called "clean slate" law, meaning the Workers’ Party would have to find another candidate by Sept. 17.