SAO PAULO, Brazil.- He’s tweeting about the politics of the day. He’s offered commentary on the World Cup. And he’s leading polls for October’s presidential election. Yes, he’s still in jail. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — universally known as Lula — has not faded from the headlines during his three months behind bars.
Instead, analysts say his public profile is part of a risky strategy to attract attention and voters to his Workers’ Party — even if the ex-president himself is not ultimately on the ballot.
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“The more time the (Workers’ Party) spends doing this, the less time there will be for another candidate to gain name recognition, to travel the country as the candidate,” said Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of international relations at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas university in Sao Paulo.
The Workers’ Party publicly maintains there is no Plan B: They say da Silva’s conviction last year on corruption charges related to the country’s sprawling Car Wash investigation was unjust, and they intend to register his candidacy in August, despite a law that bars candidates who have had a conviction upheld. Jose Crispiniano, a spokesman for da Silva, contends the law allows candidates with pending appeals to run for office.
The Superior Electoral Tribunal will make the final decision and is considered unlikely to issue a ruling favorable to him. In the meantime, though, da Silva seems to be everywhere. Every few days, his aides post messages from him on his Twitter account. In one recent tweet, for example, he questioned whether the government had “any notion of the suffering of a father or mother who can’t provide sustenance for his or her family.”
In another, he criticized a government privatization plan as selling “the country in a liquidation sale, without a care for tomorrow.” Lately, the account has promoted his Instagram profile and a new YouTube page, although his influence extends well beyond social media. During the World Cup, he wrote commentaries that were read out on a TV station allied with his party.