Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be in Porto Alegre today to find out whether his nine-and-a-half-year sentence for graft and money laundering will be upheld.
Found guilty last July, it’s expected that the three-judge panel will preserve the sentence—indeed a unanimous vote could see the former president imprisoned within the next month.
Today’s decision will be critical in deciding October’s general election, as upholding the decision would bar Lula from running for Brazil’s presidency. Remarkably, Lula is by far the most popular candidate for the top job, with polls showing he has some 36% of support. Comparatively, his nearest rival, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, is backed by only 18% of the electorate.
If his conviction is overturned, Lula can be expected to slam his original sentence as politically motivated, strongly boosting his popularity and chances of regaining the presidency, which would see Brazil swing to the left. In stark contrast, an upheld decision will boost the hopes of Bolsonaro, a former military man who likens himself to Donald Trump.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.