Lula Ends Up As This Election's Biggest Loser; Temer Comes in Second

PT lost too much time and it was impracticable to command a campaign from within the jailhouse

Fernando Canzian
São Paulo

The final numbers that showed Haddad closing in Bolsonaro in the election's last week demonstrated that maybe it was just a matter of time until the PT candidate to become more competitive.

In two weeks the difference between the two fell from 18 points in the polls to 10 in the ballots. Haddad ascended quickly and sharply, causing direct harm to his opponent. 

But Bolsonaro had been campaigning for two years, while Haddad just indeed entered the race in its end, in a fateful Sept. 11, due to Lula's insistence of keeping himself in the run, as impossible as it was.

Haddad lost time when it was most needed. His stamina in the last week, when he mobilized thousands of people in several states, energized his base, captivated undecided voters and brought former skeptics to his side; all this could have used more time.

Lula's strategy didn't come to anything. He is still convicted an in jail, and probably will receive another conviction for money laundering soon, which will keep the best-loved president in Brazilian history much longer behind bars.

But it was by taking the cult around his person, the so-called Lulismo, to the limit that Lula killed the chances of his party to break with the voters' ill will towards PT, by using a more palatable candidate like Haddad.

Previously, Lula had already crushed Ciro Gomes and the idea, shared by Gomed and Haddad, of a multipartisan front that would have more chances of mobilizing not only the left but voters and candidates from the center.

Haddad also lost by some actions of his own: he ended the first round with Dilma Rousseff in Minas and started the runoff with Lula in Curitiba. It took him a while to understand he needed to stop preaching to his own.

He also didn't address voters' concerns about a repetition of Dilma's harmful acts in the economy. Him of all people, who handed to the next São Paulo mayor a city with a budget in order and he also tried to reform the city employees' pension. At the end of the campaign, he was promising to freeze gas prices, increase Bolsa-Família stipends in 20%, increase the minimum wage and retirement pensions, all without telling people where the money to do so would come from.

If Haddad or Ciro/Haddad could have won or not, we will never know. It's smarter to look over what happened.

But it never seemed practical that Lula, from inside his jail cell and with no possibility of leaving it, could command alone what was going on with people outside the prison walls.

Michel Temer comes in close in the losers' list.

After sponsoring Rousseff's impeach and his "dream team" stabilizing the economy, the president didn't go further because he became entangled in his web of scandals.

In the end, he might have more in common with Lula than the presidency of Brazil alone.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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