Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's former president, has been ordered to turn himself in to the authorities to serve the 12-year jail sentence he was given after being convicted of corruption, The Guardian reports. The magistrate had granted Lula, "for dignity of position he held", opportunity to surrender himself to justice.
However, it would be hard for Bolsonaro, an advocate of far-right and populist political views, to court Lula's base of rural, working-class families.
"When the present becomes history, it will be clear how much persecution the president face [d]", said Daniel Libanori, a computer programmer and Da Silva supporter.
For his part, the French newspaper Le Monde published a profile of Lula in which he recalled his popularity and charisma, to evoke the phrase "is the most popular politician in the world", pronounced in 2009 by the then United States president, Barack Obama.
His endorsement was enough to get his hand-picked successor Dilma Rousseff elected twice.
Da Silva, who is known commonly as Lula, was convicted of corruption and money laundering last July and was and sentenced to nearly 10 years of imprisonment.
The appeal would nearly certainly be quickly rejected and Lula, once one of the world's most popular politicians, would be ordered to start his sentence immediately.
He left office with sky-high approval of 83 percent and was called "the most popular politician on Earth" by former U.S. President Barack Obama. Despite the legal troubles that have angered some Brazilians, da Silva leads preference polls to return to office. Extreme-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is polling in second place, stands to lose with Lula gone, as his anti-left rhetoric would be without its main punching bag.
"The prison order against Lula will scramble the electoral process even more by putting him in the spotlight", said Fitch Ratings director for Brazil, Rafael Guedes.
Earlier on Thursday, the head of the Workers' Party insisted that Da Silva, 72, would be the party's candidate in October. His lawyers put out several statements saying they were filing injunctions in hopes of keeping him out of prison. He is the front-running candidate despite his conviction. However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated.
However, there were celebrations on the right and among prosecutors supporting the epic "Car Wash" probe, which has revealed high-level corruption throughout Brazilian business and politics over the last four years.
Sen. Lindbergh Farias from the Workers' Party said vigils would be organized nationwide beginning on Friday.
Whether the Workers' Party will be able to mobilize major demonstrations remains to be seen.