On September 1, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Brazil (TSE) voted to bar the candidacy of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The rejection of his candidacy came just two weeks after the United Nations Human Rights Council requested the Brazilian state to ensure that Lula can “enjoy and exercise his political rights while in prison, as a candidate to the 2018 presidential elections, including appropriate access to the media and members of his political party.” Lula’s legal team had taken steps to appeal the decision. However, since the window for the candidacy registration ended on September 11, they opted to ensure a Workers’ Party (PT) ballot in the presidential elections. The first round of the elections will be held on October 7.
Fernando Haddad of the PT is the presidential candidate with Manuela D’Avila of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) the vice-presidential candidate of the “O Povo Feliz de Novo” (“The People Happy Again”) coalition. The coalition of the PT, PCdoB and Republican Party of the Social Order (PROS) was launched in September and though D’Avila had been preparing to contest as the presidential candidate of the PCdoB, she withdrew her candidacy in early August. She commented on the coalition: “The decision by the PCdoB is the decision of those who believe we will win the elections and we will, together, take Brazil out of this crisis that is dramatically impacting the Brazilian people.”
Who are the candidates anyways?
Fernando Haddad got his start in politics in the student movement while studying law at the University of Sao Paulo. He later got his masters in economics and a PhD in philosophy. He was the minister of education from 2005 to 2012 in Lula and Dilma’s governments where he worked to improve the quality and access to basic and higher education for the people of Brazil.
During his time as minister, he worked on increasing the reach of ProUni, a scheme which provided financing and loans for lower-income students to attend private universities. The scheme has allowed thousands of students to access university education. Haddad also helped create more federal universities across Brazil in order for students from other States to be able to access public universities. Previously, many had to come to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in order to study in public universities. He also helped strengthen the affirmative action programs in universities to ensure that public institutions reserve a certain amount of spots for racial minorities.
Haddad also served as the mayor of Sao Paulo from 2013-2016, where he continued to fight for the poor and marginalized. For example, he increased the number of city-funded preschools, as well as centers of education in human rights and environmental education. In terms of mobility and transportation, he introduced dedicated bus lanes which extended the reach of Sao Paulo’s public transportation system, increasing access for those in the peripheral areas of the city. He also created dedicated bike lanes and made significant investments in culture, urban development and social development.
Manuela D’Avila got her start in student activism at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, where she studied journalism and became involved in the Union of Socialist Youth (UJS), the youth wing of the PCdoB. In 2006, she ran as a PCdoB candidate for the position of representative to the Federal House of Representatives for Rio Grande do Sul and won. She was reelected to the position in 2010.
Haddad and D’Avila have vowed to continue the fight for a free Brazil, a democratic Brazil, a sovereign Brazil and an equal Brazil: the Brazil that Lula sought to create. It is a platform that promotes guaranteeing the rights of the most marginalized, defending the rights of workers and fighting for fair pensions retirees, defending Brazil’s sovereignty and protecting its precious natural resources from transnational extractive companies, and restoring democracy in Brazil.
In the letter written by Lula, he states: “They have banned the Brazilian people from voting freely to change the grim reality of our country. I have never accepted injustice, and never will. (…) It is in face of these circumstances that I have to make a decision (…) I am recommending to the PT the replacement of my candidacy with that of my brother Fernando Haddad, who has thus far so loyally carried out the position of vice-presidential candidate. (…) If they wish to silence our voices and defeat our project for the country, they are fooling themselves. We are still alive, in the hearts and memories of the people. And our name now is Haddad.”