Lula’s guy: Brazilian Left’s new candidate Haddad rallies voters who barely recognise him
Posted On July 18, 2020
As the new favourite to face far-Right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the Brazilian election race, there is only one question on the lips of Fernando Haddad’s supporter base: who is he?
Last week, jailed former president Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva – the firm frontrunner – officially stepped down as the candidate for the centre-left Workers’ Party, calling in running mate Mr Haddad as his replacement.
Now, the Workers’ Party’s strategy is to transfer as much of these votes as possible to Lula’s understudy Mr Haddad, the former education minister and São Paulo mayor.
Besides Mr Haddad’s professorial, technocratic demeanour – a far cry from Mr da Silva’s passionate fist-shaking and rabble-rousing – the stand-in candidate is virtually unknown outside of the large urban centres of Brazil’s southeast.
Nevertheless, early indications show that Mr Haddad, who has seen his voting intentions triple in the last three weeks, is hotly tipped to challenge Mr Bolsonaro in a second-round runoff.
This week, Mr Haddad beings his campaign in the northeast of Brazil, the least developed region of the country and a traditional Workers’ Party stronghold.
During his last visit, Mr Haddad was a stranger to the local electorate, referred to mostly as “Lula’s guy”, or mistakenly as Fernando “Andrade”.
This time, he will need to make a much greater impact. Brazil goes to the polls on October 7, leaving Mr Haddad little time to win over Mr da Silva’s impressive support base.
Polls released last week gave Mr Haddad 13 per cent of the vote, up from 4 per cent three weeks ago and tied in second place alongside fellow centre-Left candidate Ciro Gomes.
In contrast, before bowing out of the race, Mr da Silva was polling at 39 per cent.
Had he not been barred from running, there is a considerable chance he would have been elected with an overall majority, despite the fact he is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption and money laundering.
"Haddad is trying his best to present himself as Lula’s candidate, and this is why he has been growing in opinion polls", said José Alvaro Moisés, political scientist and one of the founders of the Workers’ Party.
"After two days’ campaigning, we’re already in second place", joked Mr Haddad at a press conference with foreign correspondents last week. "There are still 20 more days to go."