In a letter from his jail cell, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva this week called on tens of millions of supporters to vote for the man he named to replace on the Workers’ Party (PT) ticket in October’s presidential election.
“I want everyone who would vote for me to vote for Fernando Haddad for president of Brazil,” Lula said on Tuesday, the deadline for the party to pick another candidate after his own candidacy was barred by the courts. “From now on he will be Lula for millions of Brazilians.”
The two men are close in their political views and said to be friends, but for many voters in Latin America’s largest nation they are also very different.
While Lula is easily the country’s most recognisable politician after being president between 2003 and 2010, Haddad is largely unknown outside of São Paulo, where he was mayor four years. While Lula is charismatic and has an everyman touch, Haddad is a political science teacher turned education minister who comes off as professorial.
He also got trounced in his re-election bid as mayor in 2016.
Haddad, 55, also is only beginning his campaign less than four weeks before the election.
In his first full day as candidate for the PT, Haddad pledged Wednesday to be his own man if elected and not bow to financial markets or the interests of other countries, including the United States.
Asked about the influence Lula would have if he wins, Haddad said the former president is “an inspiration,” but called his party’s programme for the 2018 election “our Gospel,” saying it had “my signature and it has Lula’s too.”
Brazil’s first round of voting is on October 7. If none of the candidates reaches 50 percent plus one vote – as is expected – there will be a run-off on October 28.
A Datafolha poll published Monday shows Haddad in fifth place, favoured by just nine percent of those surveyed. That was a rise of five percentage points in just a few weeks, but still behind far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro’s 24 percent, left-leaning Ciro Gomes’ 13 percent, centrist Marina Silva’s 11 percent and right-leaning Geraldo Alckmin’s 10 percent.
Bolsonaro, meanwhile, underwent surgery Thursday for complications from the stab wound he suffered while campaigning, doctors said. The operation was necessary because of a blockage of the small intestine, the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo said, adding that the procedure was successful.
Bolsonaro was stabbed September 6 during a rally in the southeastern city of Juiz de Fora. He suffered intestinal damage and serious internal bleeding and underwent surgery at a local hospital before he was transferred to São Paulo.