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Brazil's da Silva hints at 1-term presidency if elected

Brazil's former president who is running for reelection, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, looks on during the launch of his plan for the federal government, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Brazil goes to the polls to elect a new president in October. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Friday that he would likely serve only one term if he wins back Brazil’s presidency in October’s election.

“I’m not going to be a president of the republic who is thinking about his reelection,” he said in an interview with Metropole Radio in the northeastern state of Bahia. “I’m going to be a president who is going to be thinking about governing this country for four years and leaving it looking great.”

Da Silva, who would turn 77 before taking office if elected, said he would have “four years in which I want to dedicate every minute to see if we can do in four years more than I did in eight.”

He added later: “I dream that when we get to December 31, 2026, when we hand over the mandate to someone else, this country will be thriving, growing.”

The leftist leader served two terms from 2003 to 2010, and he leads current President Jair Bolsonaro in all opinion polls heading into the election. Some indicate he might gain a first-round victory, avoiding the need for a runoff between the top two finishers.

Bolsonaro often insists the polls are wrong, significantly understating his true strength.

Da Silva was elected in 2002 and, despite repeatedly speaking against reelection bids, he secured another term four years later. In 2010, he refused to seek a third term despite pressure from many lawmakers who wanted to change Brazil’s constitution to give him that opportunity.

While campaigning in 2018, Bolsonaro also hinted he would serve only one term, saying he opposed reelection. Speaking to Fox News in an interview aired Thursday night, the far-right leader said the left “will never leave power” if da Silva wins in October.

“And then this country will follow the footsteps of Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Colombia,” Bolsonaro said, listing South American nations where leftist candidates have won the presidency recently. “Brazil could become another wagon in that train.”

Da Silva also spoke about the role of the country’s military in the elections, which has become an issue since Bolsonaro hinted he might not accept results if he loses. Military leaders close to the president have insisted without offering proof that there are flaws in the nation’s electronic voting system.

The leftist presidential hopeful said questioning elections is not a military task. “It is the electoral authority that takes care of the electronic voting system. It is our society that oversees it,” said da Silva, who has mostly avoided voicing opinions that could displease military leaders during the campaign.

Da Silva compared Bolsonaro’s statements on Brazil’s voting system to also unfounded questioning by then U.S. President Donald Trump after the 2020 elections. “He wants to create confusion. He wants to do the same thing Trump did. That is, a lie told a thousand times can look like the truth,” da Silva said.