Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the jailed former Brazilian president, stepped aside on Tuesday to allow his running mate to stand for the presidency in next month’s election, as Leftist candidates’ strong showing in a poll pulled markets lower. The politician, nicknamed “Lula”, had been the frontrunner despite serving a prison term for corruption and had already been banned by the courts from contesting elections in South America’s biggest economy. The switch was approved at a meeting of the Workers Party in the southern city of Curitiba – where Mr da Silva has been held since April – as a court-ordered deadline loomed for him to name a stand-in. “The decision has been made,” a party official told AFP.
Hundreds of Lula supporters gathered near the jail where he is being held. Fernando Haddad read a letter there from his mentor anointing him as his political heir.
“It is time to get out on the streets, with heads high, and win this election,” he told supporters.
The decision came less than two weeks after Brazil’s Superior Electoral Tribunal ruled that the popular but polarising former president cannot run while serving his 12-year prison sentence.