Brazil’s Workers Party registered imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday as its candidate for the October presidential election, despite his serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and facing several more graft trials.
Several thousand supporters marched to Brazil’s top electoral court chanting “Free Lula” and “Lula for President” as they accompanied top members of his PT party to register his candidacy just hours before the deadline.
While he was nominated earlier this month to be his party’s candidate, Lula is expected to be barred from running by the country’s top electoral court since Brazilian law bars candidates whose conviction has been upheld on appeal, which is Lula’s situation. Lula has been jailed since April but still leads all election polling.
The PT will use all appeals to delay any final ruling on Lula’s registration, and says he is its only candidate. Lula has chosen former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad to lead the PT ticket when he is likely barred, according to party sources.
Police said 10,000 people participated in the march. No incidents or arrests were reported.
Lula governed Brazil for two terms from 2003-2011 and left office with a record approval rating of 87 percent due to a booming economy and social programs that lifted millions of Brazilians from poverty.
His popularity has been hurt by corruption indictments and scandals involving his party, which was ousted from power in 2016 when his hand-picked successor was impeached for breaking budget rules.
Still, polls show about one-third of Brazilians would vote for him if he is allowed to run, almost double his nearest rival, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, and many of his supporters are expected to vote for whomever replaces him in the race.
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