By Pedro Rafael Vilela
Candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), 77 years old, elected this Sunday (30), in a second round of voting, for the third mandate as president of the Republic of Brazil, has a long trajectory in Brazilian politics, which began in the early 1970s. At the time, the country was still under military dictatorship and Lula was the director of the Metalworkers’ Union of São Bernardo do Campo, in the ABC Paulista region, one of the country’s main industrial centers.
In 1975, Lula was elected president of the union, which represented 100,000 workers. Three years later, in 1978, after being reelected president, Lula led the first strikes in more than a decade. At that time, the country was going through a slow and gradual process of political openness. In March 1979, more than 170 thousand metalworkers stopped the factories in the ABC Paulista region. In the following year, around 200 thousand metalworkers crossed their arms. Police repression of the strike movement, which even led to Lula’s imprisonment, brought out the popular leadership of Lula, who would create the Workers’ Party (PT) in 1980. A few years later he would also found the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT).
In 1984, Lula was one of the main leaders of the Diretas Já campaign for the Presidency of the Republic. In 1986 he was elected the country’s most voted federal deputy to the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the 1988 Federal Constitution.
A consolidated national leader, Lula was launched by the PT to run for President in 1989, after 29 years without a direct election. He lost the race, in the second round, to Fernando Collor de Mello, by a small margin. Two years later, however, Lula led a national mobilization against corruption that culminated in Collor’s impeachment. In 1994 and 1998, Lula was again a presidential candidate, defeated by Fernando Henrique Cardoso on both occasions.
In 2002, through an unprecedented political alliance until then, the PT approved a coalition that included PL, PCdoB, PCB and PMN, launching Lula as president again, with Senator José Alencar (PL), from Minas Gerais, one of the biggest businessmen in the country, as vice-president.
On October 27, 2002, in a second round of voting, at the age of 57, Lula obtained almost 53 million votes and was elected president for the first time. His mandate was marked by the expansion of social programs and expansion in the areas of education and health, in addition to a policy of increasing the minimum wage. One of the main marks of his government was the reduction of misery in the country. In 2006, Lula and José Alencar were reelected and ended their mandate, in 2010, with the highest approval rating of a government in the country’s history, over 80%.
This popularity boosted the election of Dilma Rousseff (PT), who was Lula’s prime minister, and was elected the first woman president in the country’s history.
Lava Jato and prison
In 2014, after the outbreak of Operation Lava Jato, which investigated corruption in Petrobras, the political crisis escalated to an unprecedented level in Brazilian democracy. Reelected in the same year, President Rousseff and her government ended up consumed by the wear and tear of the accusations, lost support in Congress, and ended up suffering an impeachment, in 2016. The removal of Rousseff is controversial, since it has not been demonstrated that she committed a crime of responsibility, as required by the Federal Constitution.
Lula became the target of proceedings for alleged corruption and was convicted by the then Judge Sergio Moro, of the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, where the proceedings of the operation were being conducted. After being convicted in the Guarujá triplex case, the former president was arrested on April 7, 2018, two days after the order for his arrest was issued. The magistrate’s sentence had been confirmed, and the sentence had been increased by the 8th Panel of the Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region, based in Porto Alegre. At the time, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) had changed the understanding that those convicted in the second instance could begin serving their sentences.
Lula spent 580 days in prison and was banned by the courts from running in the 2018 presidential election, which was won by Jair Bolsonaro. The former president was released in November 2019, after the STF reviewed the thesis of compliance from conviction in the second instance, starting to consider the possibility only with the res judicata of the process.
In 2021, STF judgments considered that the then judge Sergio Moro was partial in Lula’s trial, and the magistrate’s suspicion was declared in the triplex case, which was annulled. In addition, the cases of the Atibaia farm and two criminal actions involving the Lula Institute were also annulled because they should have been tried by the Federal Court in Brasilia and not in Curitiba, where Moro was acting as judge. In the Federal Justice of the Federal District, the cases were considered time-barred, which is when the state loses the deadline to seek a conviction.
Third term in office
With no pending cases in the courts, Lula has returned forcefully to the political scene in the race for a third term as president. During the campaign, he sought to highlight the legacy of his previous administrations and promised to resume some of his policies considered successful, such as real increases in the minimum wage.
Lula also stated that he will guarantee the payment of Auxilio Brasil (former Bolsa Família) at R$ 600 per family, with an extra payment of R$ 150 per child up to 6 years old.
He also promises to expand the Minha Casa Minha Vida program for popular housing, which has been replaced by the Casa Verde Amarela program under the current government.
Other proposals include the recreation of the Ministry of Culture and the creation of the Ministry of Native Peoples, to take care of indigenous issues and traditional populations.