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Lula repeats that he will not seek re-election in event of victory

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the frontrunner in Brazil’s presidential runoff, repeated on Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2026 should he win the presidency on Sunday. Lula, who will turn 77 on Thursday, is seeking a third term as president this year after serving the constitutional limit of two consecutive terms in 2003-2010.

“If I am elected, I will be a one-term president. Leaders are made by working, through their commitment to the population,” the leftist leader tweeted.

This is not the first time Lula has said this would be his last term as president — but the timing of his comment, five days before he faces incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro in a close runoff, is notable. Lula has been the figurehead of his Workers’ Party for more than two decades, and he is now signaling that he will step aside to allow a new generation of political leaders to emerge in four years’ time.

But Lula has no natural successor within his party, and the comment has also been interpreted as a nod to his more centrist partners in this year’s coalition, such as running mate Geraldo Alckmin and Senator Simone Tebet, who is campaigning for Lula after coming third place in election’s first round.

“Lula’s announcement … is a game changer,” tweeted Thomas Traumann, the political commentator. Mr. Traumann believes it could tip a few votes in Lula’s favor and, more significantly, it indicates that Lula will lead a broad government. Throughout the campaign, the former president has been tight-lipped about his likely cabinet appointments his should he return to the presidency.

Prior to his victory in 2018, Mr. Bolsonaro also said he would only serve one term, declaring himself against re-election as a concept. But he appeared to change his mind soon after winning the presidency, spending much of his term in office preparing for his re-election campaign. Mr. Bolsonaro has infamously said that “only God” can remove him from power, and there are fears that he might seek to amend the constitution to remove presidential term limits should he win re-election on Sunday. . Bolsonaro in the polls, but the vote is expected to be a close one.

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