RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received two symbolic endorsements Wednesday as he seeks new allies ahead of an Oct. 30 runoff against incumbent Jair Bolsonaro to return to the country's highest office.
Simone Tebet, a center-right candidate who came third in Sunday's election with 4% of the votes, and former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who remains highly respected in business circles, have both announced they will back da Silva, who is universally known as Lula.
“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 said at a press conference in Sao Paulo. “What is at stake is far greater than each of us.”
Citing a country “divided by hate speech and ideological polarization,” she called her nearly 5 million voters to join her in supporting democracy, adding that she will be actively campaigning for da Silva.
The leftist Workers’ Party candidate came close to an outright victory on Sunday, receiving over 48% of the votes. Far-right Bolsonaro got 43%. Since the election, the two men have been on a hunt for support across Brazil and the political spectrum.
Earlier Wednesday, former President Cardoso, 91, said he will cast his vote for da Silva in the name of “a history of struggle for democracy and social inclusion," and posted old photos of da Silva and him distributing pro-democratic pamphlets during the military dictatorship (1964-1985).
Political analyst Carlos Melo said the announcements were symbolic and could bring crucial votes to da Silva.
“Tebet managed to win votes during the election, she built her own political estate, not that of her party,” said Melo, a science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, also underlying her popularity among women. Meanwhile, Cardoso could help strengthen da Silva's popularity among those in the business and intellectual elite that are still reticent.
Da Silva was jailed for 19 months as part of a massive corruption investigation known as the Car Wash probe, which targeted his Workers’ Party and upended Brazilian politics. The Supreme Court later annulled his convictions amid accusations the judge and prosecutors manipulated the case against him.
Ex-President Michel Temer and the powerful agro-business lobby in Congress joined three state governors in Brazil’s southeast, the country’s richest and most populous region, in backing Bolsonaro Wednesday.