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Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks at the Metalworkers Union headquarters Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks at the Metalworkers Union headquarters in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, March 10, 2021 (AP photo by Andre Penner).

With Lula Back, Is Brazil’s Center Doomed?

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The news hit Brazil like an earthquake. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, widely known as Lula, was suddenly free to run for president in next year’s election. That was the principal, if potentially reversible, result of a surprising decision issued Monday by a Brazilian Supreme Court judge, tossing out criminal corruption cases against the iconic leftist leader. The 2022 presidential race has now taken on a dramatic new player who poses a major threat to the reelection of Brazil’s controversial far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

The court ruling, which still faces possible challenges, sets the stage for an extraordinarily divisive election next year, with two personalities whose political views are polar opposites and who each inspire their own passionate supporters. Brazil has spent years in the grip of political acrimony, and the next election is all but certain to make it much worse. ...

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