On Jan. 24, a Brazilian appeals court upheld corruption charges against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Despite the ruling, Lula, as he is popularly known, still leads the polls ahead of presidential elections slated for Oct. 7. In an email interview, Kurt Weyland, a professor in the department of government at the University of Texas at Austin and author of several books on Brazil and Latin America, discusses what’s next for Lula, his leftist Workers’ Party and Brazil’s corruption-plagued democracy.
WPR: After his corruption conviction was upheld, what can we expect from Lula going forward?
Kurt Weyland: It is likely that Lula will vigorously continue his pre-campaign for the presidency in the hope of generating enough popular momentum that the electoral authorities will be reluctant to bar his candidacy. As the Workers’ Party claimed in an official pronouncement, Lula’s own political clout will impede plans to keep him out of the presidential race. Lula is gambling that his status as the clear, strong frontrunner will produce sufficient domestic and international pressure as to make a ban illegitimate and therefore politically infeasible. At the same time, Lula and his lawyers will exhaust all options for legal appeal, taking his case to the Superior Court of Justice and perhaps ultimately the Supreme Court.