SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is campaigning to return to the job he held between 2003-2010, on Thursday received an endorsement from moderate André Janones who had been expected to run himself.
Da Silva, who is commonly known as Lula, and Janones made the announcement in a live broadcast, shortly before they were scheduled to hold a press conference in Sao Paulo.
“I stop my bid and unify it with former President Lula’s,” Janones, a social media phenomenon with 2 million followers on Instagram and 8 million on Facebook, said.
A former member of da Silva’s Workers’ Party, Janones parted ways years ago to build a more moderate political platform, and has used social media to reach out to poorer Brazilians by addressing pocketbook issues.
His endorsement could help push the leftist former leader closer to an outright victory against Bolsonaro, without the need for a runoff vote. Da Silva currently leads all polls; the most recent survey from Datafolha showed him with 47% support in the first-round vote on Oct. 3.
By contrast, the same poll showed Janones with 2% support. It was conducted July 27 and 28 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
On Thursday, Janones also said he could not support Bolsonaro, who he accused of increasing spending through year-end merely to boost his reelection chances.
“I cannot support a president who has used people's hunger to boost his chances,” Janones said.
Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, believes Janones' support could boost momentum for da Silva since the lawmaker is the first presidential contender to end his campaign to support the former president.
Brazilian media is reporting that other potential candidates with low numbers in the polls could do the same in the coming days.
“This puts more pressure on other contenders who have more support, but not enough to go to a runoff, including Sen. Simone Tebet, who has polled around 4%, and former minister Ciro Gomes, with about 8%,” Melo said. “This move could have more of a political than mathematical impact. It helps create an atmosphere that this election must end in the first round.”
Da Silva's bid has secured the support of nine parties of Brazil's fractured party system.