Participants in the Free Lula March walked nearly 50 kilometres to the Supreme Electoral Court in the capital to officially register Lula’s unlikely candidacy.
Lula leads in opinion polls ahead of the first round of presidential voting. However he is almost sure to be barred under Brazil’s clean slate law.
In addition, his polling results mask equally strong rejection rates, making him the most popular but also arguably the most divisive politician in the country.
‘Car Wash’ corruption
For the approximately 1,000 marchers, divided into three groups converging on Brasilia, Lula’s absence from the election would be a travesty.
The marchers include former Sao Paulo governor Fernando Haddad, who is designated as vice president on Lula’s ticket.
Lula, 72, was convicted of taking an apartment as a bribe from a big construction company. The case was part of a mass of graft prosecutions conducted in Brazil’s giant “Car Wash” probe into systemic embezzlement and bribery throughout the country’s political parties.
The electoral court has until September 17 to rule on Lula’s candidacy registration. If he is barred, Haddad would likely run in his place. However, if the court refuses to let Lula run, his Workers Party won’t have much time to campaign before voting opens on October 7.
In an article published by the New York Times on Tuesday, Lula said that his sentence was “the latest phase in a slow-motion coup”.
The “extreme right wing is seeking to knock me out of the race,” Lula wrote.