The possibility that Lula will leave his prison cell before the October presidential elections now seems off the table. The Supreme Court has postponed the question of constitutionality on Lula’s arrest after the elections, leaving no room open for Lula’s supporters. As explained by the Minister of the Supreme Federal Court Gilmar Mendes, the debate on the Lula’s imprisonment “can be considered closed.”
However, it is not closed the United Nations Human Rights Council. It officially announced on Tuesday the opening of investigations about possible violations of the fundamental guarantees to which the former president is subjected.
In the meantime, the judiciary power, unbothered by creating further political controversies, has released the untouchable PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) candidate Geraldo Alckmin. He is accused of having received bribes up to 10 million reais. In addition, Gilmar Mendes has decided to release also the financial intermediary Paulo Preto — also of the PSDB — former director of Dersa (a road construction company) through whose hands have passed 130 million reais of bribes. To obtain habeas corpus, all he had to do was show his willingness to involve other members of his party.
The suspicion that the PSDB enjoys special protection also comes from Judge Sergio Moro. He was photographed with the Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria (PSDB) and then participated in a public event in New York promoted by the Lide Groups, owned by the Doria family.
However, it is clear that the PSDB has a problem, and it is not irrelevant: it has not found yet a serious candidate able to successfully aspire to the presidency of the country.
The last survey of the NTC/MDA showed how Lula, more than a month after his arrest, can still count on 32.4 percent of the electorate. The other candidates are far behind: 16.7 percent for Jair Bolsonaro, 7.6 percent for Marina Silva, 5.4 percent for Ciro Gomes and just 4 percent of the Social Democrat Alckmin, the only one of this group supported by the coup forces.
Moreover, the 25.6 percent of Brazilians are willing to vote only for Lula, and 90.3 percent of those interviewed believe justice did not act impartially. In light of these data, it is certainly more complicated to challenge the PTB’s choice — criticized also within the party — to continue to support Lula’s candidacy, renouncing the search for another political figure since it is by now very probable that the former president won’t be able to take part in the presidential elections. Indeed, Lula could appeal to the Ficha Limpa law, which prohibits convicts in second instance from standing in elections. That would suspend his ineligibility in the presence of ‘plausible’ appeals (as are certainly those of Lula). But the Supreme Electoral Court is already thinking of a counter-attack: that of automatically rejecting the registration of the former president’s candidacy, without waiting for any appeals and starting the process.
However, the risk of another possible violation of the law did not discourage the PTB president Gleisi Hoffmann, more than ever determined to reject any plan B: “If Lula is innocent, if the majority of the people want to vote for him, if in the light of the Constitution his political rights are guaranteed, why should we refrain from presenting him as a candidate? It would mean playing the game of his persecutors.”
Lula himself spoke from prison, explaining his determination to run for the presidential elections: “Otherwise it would mean that I am acknowledging that I have committed a crime. But I did not commit it. For this reason I remain a candidate until the truth appears in the newspapers, until the prosecutor’s office and the magistracy prove my guilt or stop lying.” In support of the former president, six former European Heads of Government — Hollande, Prodi, D’Alema, Letta, Di Rupo and Zapatero — wrote a manifesto in which, denouncing Lula’s anomalous arrest, they call for his liberation in order to take part freely in the October elections.