The left-wing former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva confirmed this Saturday that he will try to return to power in the October elections, to prevent a second term of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro and "rebuild" the country.

"We are willing to work not only for victory on October 2, but for the reconstruction and transformation of Brazil, which will be much more difficult than winning the election."Lula said during an act in Sao Paulo before some 4,000 members and sympathizers of his Workers’ Party (PT) and other leftist political groups that support his candidacy.

"We want to unite Democrats of all backgrounds and shades, from the most varied political backgrounds, from all walks of life and religious creeds, to defeat the totalitarian threat."added Lula, 76, wearing a white shirt and blue suit, on a stage decorated with a giant Brazilian flag, a symbol frequently associated with Bolsonarism and the right.

Lula will run twelve years after leaving power with a historic 87% approval rating at the time, and after a troubled period in which he was convicted of corruption, jailed for more than a year and prevented from contesting the 2018 elections.

His return to the political fight was an open secret fueled by himself since he regained his political rights in 2021, when the Federal Supreme Court (STF) annulled his convictions on the grounds that he was not judged impartially.

The campaign officially begins in August and until then applicants can only present themselves publicly as "candidates"but for months both Bolsonaro and Lula have participated in public events with an electoral tone.

This Saturday, the icon of the Brazilian left read a speech in which he described Bolsonaro as "incompetent"without mentioning it directly, and said that he intends to return to power "so that no one ever again dares to challenge democracy" and that "fascism goes back into the pipes of history from which it should never have come out".

With five months to go before the elections, everything indicates that the election will be settled between this former metallurgical worker, who presided over Brazil between 2003 and 2011, and the former Army captain who came to power in 2019, two political enemies with antagonistic proposals.

"Together for Brazil"

Lula’s candidacy was launched under the slogan "Let’s go together for Brazil"an alliance of the PT with other leftist parties that the former president forged in recent months.

His former political opponent and current running mate for the vice presidency, the former governor of Sao Paulo Geraldo Alckmin (69), participated by videoconference after testing positive for covid-19.

"When Lula extended his hand to me, I saw in that gesture much more than a sign of reconciliation, I saw a true call to reason. (…) Lula is the remaining hope"affirmed Alckmin, moderate and not very charismatic, but well seen by the business community.

In an act full of references to his previous efforts and campaigns, Lula promised to resume the fight against hunger, unemployment, and defend the environment and indigenous peoples.

"We did a lot, but I am aware that much more is still needed and possible"said Lula, pilot of the "miracle" Brazilian economy that, sustained by the high prices of raw materials and government social plans, lifted 30 million people out of poverty according to official figures, in a country of 213 million inhabitants.

"Lula is a phenomenon, he is history, he has to become president again so that everything improves, violence, health, education… he is the only one who will manage to remove the current president"Edilaine Machado, 46, one of the guests at the event, told AFP.

"is our salvation"said the indigenous Tamikua Faustino, of the Pataxó ethnic group, 53 years old.

"antipetism" and missteps in the campaign

Lula’s advantage in the polls reached its apex at the end of 2021, while he was touring Europe and Bolsonaro’s popularity reached an all-time low due to his handling of the pandemic, soaring inflation and growing poverty.

But in recent months Bolsonaro rebounded in the measurements.

The Lula-Alckmin formula confronts the "antipetism"embodied by those who still see Lula and the PT as synonymous with corruption, even though he declares himself the victim of a political conspiracy.

Lately, Lula has multiplied his missteps, with controversial statements about abortion, the middle classes or the police. She also told the US magazine Time that Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky is "as responsible as Putin" from the war.

After these false steps, the former president’s team seeks to redefine its communication strategy, which has not yet managed to counteract the superiority of Bolsonarism in social networks.

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