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Brazil: Third-place candidate endorses Lula

October 6, 2022

Simone Tebet urged her voters to back Lula due to his "commitment to democracy." Former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso also endorsed his leftist former rival.

Lula speaking at a campaign event Wednesday
Lula is currently leading in the polls, but pollsters overestimated his win on SundayImage: Miguel Schincariol/AFP

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has received two major endorsements as his campaign prepares for a runoff election against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro on October 30.

Simone Tebet, the center-right candidate who came in third place during the first round with 4% of the vote, called on the 5 million people who voted for her to back Lula in the second round.

"For my love for Brazil, for democracy and for the constitution, for the courage I never lacked, I apologize to my friends and companions who begged for neutrality in this second round," Tebet told reporters in Sao Paulo. "What is at stake is far greater than each of us."

Tebet, an anti-abortion Catholic, was popular among some conservative voters and women. Analysts say her endorsement of Lula is a symbolic win for the leftist who was president from 2003 to 2010.

"I maintain my criticism of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva," she added. "But I will give him my vote, because I recognize his commitment to democracy and the constitution, which I have never seen from the current president."

Former president backs Lula

On the same day, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who is still respected in business circles, announced he too would cast his vote for Lula's "history of struggle for democracy and social inclusion" over Bolsonaro.

The 91-year-old posted photos of himself with a young Lula distributing pro-democracy pamphlets during the military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985.

Lula was defeated by Cardoso at the 1994 and 1998 presidential elections until he eventually won against a different candidate in 2002.

Lula leading in the polls

An opinion poll released on Wednesday by IPEC found that Lula had 51% voter support compared to 43% for Bolsonaro.

The poll surveyed 2,000 with a error margin of 2 percentage points.

However, IPEC and other pollsters also projected that Lula would have a more decisive lead over Bolsonaro than the slimmer margin that actually eventuated during the first round.

After his better-than-expected result on Sunday, Bolsonaro told reporters: "We beat the lie."

"Now the campaign is ours," he said. "I’m completely confident."

zc/wd (AP, AFP, Reuters)