Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, formerly a metalworker who lost a finger in an accident at work, then a Trade Union Leader, defeated in three Presidential elections, now presents himself as a serious candidate tipped to be the next President of Brazil. The only question remains, will it be in the first round or the second?
Market research experts Ibope place Lula in front with 41% of the vote two and a half weeks before the elections. In second place and far behind is the candidate adopted by the “system”, from the same party as President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB, Social Democrats), Jose Serra with 19%. Third is now Anthony Garotinho (13%) and in fourth place the free-fall candidacy of Ciro Gomes (12%).
Arrested by the military dictatorship, Lula of yesteryear was more radical, a facet which the opposition and particularly Jose Serra try to exploit. Yet Lula 2002 is not Lula 1972. He has matured with the years and like a good port wine, the older he becomes, the better and the more class he acquires. Lula has stated clearly that he will respect all contracts signed with financial institutions. The only change will be that his policy will highlight the social needs of the country. 11.7% of Brazil’s 170 million population are unemployed.
It is not only the unemployed and working classes to whom Lula has appeal. He is gaining the increasingly important vote of the disaffected middle classes who live from month to month with little or no hope of improving their living conditions, while the 5% elite of the country become richer and richer in leaps and bounds by the day.
Gaining support across the social spectrum and in every state, Lula is on a roller-coaster ride to the Presidency in Brasilia. Waiting for him are serious and hot social issues which only he has the background to tackle.
The Brazilian people are set to provide the world with a lesson in political courage, with the determination and the common sense to take their destiny into their own hands, under a responsible, mature politician who has surrounded himself with Brazil’s finest experts.