Brazil's Lula says may seek presidency in 2014

Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:44am EDT

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BRASILIA, June 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is likely to run for the presidency again in 2014 if an opposition candidate wins next year's election, he said in an interview published on Friday.

Lula, who is barred by the constitution from running for a third straight term in October 2010, said he would support likely Workers' Party candidate Dilma Rousseff if she won next year and would not seek to succeed her in 2014.

Despite previous hints by Lula, the remarks are the strongest indication yet the popular leader may not retire from politics after he leaves office on Jan. 1, 2011.

"I'll be pulling for Dilma to do her best and run for re-election," he said in the interview in with Zero Hora, a newspaper in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

"If an adversary wins the election, then it can be predicted that I'll come back in 2014."

The center-left Lula, first elected president in 2002, has approval ratings of 80 percent but has rejected calls to change the constitution and run for a third straight term.

Neither Rousseff, who is Lula's chief of staff, nor her expected main opponent, centrist Sao Paulo Governor Jose Serra, are seen as having the charisma or electoral Midas touch that Lula has shown.

Some senior members of the ruling party say Rousseff may step down to allow Lula another run at the presidency in 2014.

But Lula said in the interview that if she won his role would be "to work so that she could do the maximum possible."

Feared by markets as a dangerous leftist when he was first elected, Lula followed orthodox economic policies that nurtured a five-year economic boom while social programs helped lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty.

(Reporting by Natuza Nery; Writing by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Todd Benson and Alan Elsner)

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