The next presidential election is set for October 2022 and the devastating figure of the pandemic could be an important issue.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has upheld the ruling that dismissed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s corruption allegations, paving the way for him to run for a new presidency next year against incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
The much-anticipated majority decision came on Thursday after Supreme Court Judge Edson Fachin determined in early March that the subordinate federal court where Lula was on trial lack of authority; a swift ruling was appealed by Brazil’s top prosecutor.
The verdict did not show that Lula was innocent, but in fact, prosecutors returned to the discussion by sending the cases to another court.
The quenching of Lula’s allegations – albeit on a procedural basis – destabilized Brazilian politics as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro prepares to seek re-election as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the country Largest in Latin America.
Bolsonaro described a virus that killed more than 365,000 Brazilians, the world’s second most deadly, as a type of “minor flu”. Following Fachin’s ruling, Lula described Bolsonaro’s approach to the pandemic as “nonsense” and liken the situation to genocide.
A prominent but tarnished left-wing politician and a former steelmaker, 75-year-old Lula led Brazil through its economic boom from 2003 to 2010.
His lawyers called the judges’ decisions “history”.
“This is another Supreme Court ruling to restore the credibility of the judicial system in our country,” they said in a statement.
Bolsonaro, a former military captain, 66, said the ruling meant “Lula is now candidate” for 2022 – and warned of the consequences.
“Look what the future of Brazil will be with the kind of people he will put in the presidency,” the incumbent president said in his weekly Facebook address.
“You can all draw your own conclusions.”
Lula was found guilty of accepting bribes from engineering firms in exchange for public contracts in 2018 and spent a year and a half in prison until the Supreme Court ruled that he and the others could appeal their case without going to jail.
Lula and his supporters fired an anti-corruption task force that knocked him down, known as Car wash operation, which exposes massive corruption involving state oil giant Petrobas, as a political endeavor. The chats leaked in 2019 have raised questions about whether investigators will cut corners to secure prosecutions.
The task force was disbanded in February. Lula has always claimed her innocence and the lawsuits against him were a conspiracy to deceive him politically.
The election is scheduled to take place in October 2022. Initial polls indicated this would be a tight race.