by Edgardo Loguercio
BRASILIA Brazil (Xinhua) --
Brazil is immersed in political uncertainty as
next year’s general elections in October loom, with no clear
candidates in sight.
So far, there’s little hope that
the elections will be able to lift Brazil out of a political
crisis sparked more than one year ago by the questionable
impeachment of ex-president Dilma Rousseff, and the designation
of Vice President Michel Temer as president.
As a leftist activist-turned-Brazil’s first woman president,
Rousseff was ousted by a conservative Congress eager to pursue
more business-friendly policies.
Corruption scandals and power struggles have tainted even
Brazil’s most popular political figures, making Brazilians more
skeptical of their system of government than ever before.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who served the
country from 2003 to 2010, for example, continues to enjoy the
support of progressive Brazilians as the head of the Workers’
The only problem is he has been convicted of accepting bribes
from a construction firm, which will end his bid for re-election
if he loses his appeal.
A court is expected to rule on his appeal on Jan. 24.
Lula was convicted in July of corruption and money laundering
as part of Brazil’s massive graft investigation. If the
conviction is upheld, Brazil’s related law would bar him from
Political scientist Luciano Dias, of CAC Consulting, said
it’s likely the court will uphold his sentence.
"That means he will be pigeonholed by the Clean Record Law,
meaning he will be ineligible in Brazil to hold any public
office for eight years," Dias told Xinhua.
"But Lula is still going to play a leading role (in the
elections) because the PT controls about 12 percent of the
national vote," said Dias, who believed all of the leftist
parties in Brazil together represent around 20 percent of votes.
Ricardo Caldas, professor of political science at the
University of Brasilia, agreed Lula will probably be
disqualified and that will open the field to numerous
"The main scenario is a fragmented scenario. Should Lula not
be able to run, that is going to distribute the votes among many
"For me, the novelty would be to see him absolved, but that’s
less likely," said Caldas.
With Lula out of the picture, the next logical favorite could
be Sao Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckmin, whose state is
Brazil’s most populous state, home to a fourth of all registered
voters, Dias said.
A member of the centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party,
Alckmin is known to many Brazilians.
He ran before, losing by a scant margin to Lula in a 2006
His current post serves as a perfect springboard to the
But he is also facing serious charges of corruption linked to
public sector contracts.
In fact, polls show the next favorite would-be candidate
after Lula is former military officer Jair Bolsonaro, dubbed
"Brazil’s Donald Trump."
"Bolsonaro is really a surprise.
"He is more popular than one would expect from a candidate
with his characteristics," said Dias.
However, "it’s tough to say whether he is going to maintain
this level of votes when the campaign really gets underway," he
And it remains to be seen who Temer’s government backs as
For Caldas, the contest will pit a government-sanctioned
candidate that promises to continue the social security reforms
Temer is pursuing against a moderate center-left candidate that
may embrace some, though not all, of those reforms.
"I think the reformist agenda is going to continue, no matter
who is elected," said Caldas.
"Even ex-president Lula himself demonstrated in the past that
he could defend unpopular measures, like when he maintained
taxes on consumption ... counter to the stance of his own
party," said Caldas.