SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched his presidential candidacy on Saturday, urging Brazilians to unite behind him to defend Brazilian democracy from the authoritarian government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Without mentioning Bolsonaro’s name, Lula told supporters at a rally that his opponent could not govern and constantly lied to the nation to hide his incompetence.
“The worst time in the country is forcing us to overcome our differences and build an alternative path to the incompetence and authoritarianism that governs us,” he said.
“We want to unite with Democrats of all political positions, classes, races and religious beliefs … to overcome the totalitarian threat, hatred, violence and discrimination that hover over our country,” he told a lively crowd.
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The rally was called a “pre-launch” to comply with Brazilian electoral law which says the official campaign for the October elections begins in August.
Recent opinion polls show that Lula maintains a comfortable advantage over his rival if elections are held today, although Bolsonaro has gained ground by increasing social spending and traveling across the country.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned Brazil’s electronic voting system, fearing it would not admit defeat.
Lula said he had so far forged a growing alliance of seven center-left parties and had chosen former São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin as a formula mate to attract moderate voters who were unhappy with the administration. Bolsonaro.
Lula highlighted his achievements during his two terms between 2003 and 2010, when Brazil grew rapidly due to a super boom in raw materials, which allowed his government to raise millions from poverty.
“Brazil has returned to the dark past that we thought we had overcome,” he said, referring to rising hunger among poor Brazilians.
Alckmin addressed the demonstration remotely via video after testing positive for COVID-19.
Lula, a 76-year-old widower, said he was in love with his girlfriend Rosangela da Silva. They plan to get married on May 18th.
(Report by Lisandra Paraguassu; Written by Marcela Ayres; Edited by Chizu Nomiyama)
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