Workers Party clings to Lula candidacy

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The jailing of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has hardened convictions in his Workers Party that he should be nominated to run for president, its senior members said, a plan that might leave the broader left fragmented as elections approach.

There is little chance Lula, convicted of bribery and facing six more graft trials, would be eligible to stand for the October vote, even if freed by an appeal that the Supreme Court could take up on Wednesday.

But the Workers Party has closed ranks behind him, with the national executive saying on Mondaythat they would register him as a presidential candidate close to the August deadline for hopefuls to enter the race.

That would delay the chance for an electoral court to formally bar his candidacy and would keep pressure on the judiciary for locking up the campaign front-runner.

Even party officials who previously backed at least discussing alternative candidates after Lula’s conviction last year now say it is no time for such debate.

“To talk about Plan B now would divide the party at a moment when our tactic is to strengthen Lula,” said Washington Quaqua, the head of the Workers Party in Rio de Janeiro state. “He is our candidate until he decides otherwise. We will take this to the limit.”

A party official said Lula’s sudden imprisonment after losing a Supreme Court ruling last week left leaders in a state of shock, turning their focus to a vigil outside of the police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba where he is held.

“They are all still stunned and nobody can discuss clearly what the best options are,” said the official, who works in the party leadership in Brasilia but asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak publicly about the situation.

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