Cheers erupted outside of a Brazilian prison Friday when the country's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva walked free, after a year and a half behind bars.
His release is expected to further polarize a country that elected far-right President Jair Bolsonaro past year in a vote that Lula said on Friday was "robbed" from his Workers Party, which governed the country from 2002 to 2016.
On the one hand, it will serve Bolsonaro's anti-PT and anti-Lula rhetoric, Couto said.
Da Silva, who governed from 2003 to 2010, had been favoured to win the 2018 presidential election, but his conviction eventually prohibited him from running.
Though Lula's release could stir up an already heated political environment, it would have small repercussions on Brazil's economic reforms, according to consultancy Eurasia.
Lula continues to be seen as a leader of the left in Brazil and one of the main opposition voices against Bolsonaro.
Lula will be barred from standing for office because of his criminal record.
The former president, wearing a black T-shirt and suit jacket, pumped his fist in the air as he exited the federal police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba and was quickly mobbed by hundreds of supporters and journalists.
Opponents who decried his release as evidence of impunity and backsliding in Brazil's battle against political corruption also called for protests over the weekend.
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"The thing that makes Lula most unsafe to Bolsonaro is that Lula understands the long game", said James Bosworth, founder of Hxagon, a political risk analysis firm, stressing that the politician had run four times before being first elected in 2003.
Brazil's Supreme Court decided on Thursday to end the mandatory imprisonment of convicted criminals after they lose their first appeal. He has maintained his innocence and said the case against him was politically motivated. On Thursday, the top court voted 6-5 that the precedent was in fact unconstitutional.
Moro, who was the Car Wash trial's judge who sentenced Lula before being appointed justice minister by President Jair Bolsonaro's government, warned before the court's decision that overturning the rule would be a big setback for the fight against corruption.
His supporters claim the corruption allegations were part of a plot to derail Lula's bid for a third term in last year's presidential election, in which he had been a runaway favorite before his legal woes knocked him from the race.
For Claudio Couto, a professor in political science at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas university in Sao Paulo, Da Silva's release will have profound consequences on both sides of Brazil's political spectrum.
With Da Silva's release, attacks on the Supreme Court's ruling will doubtless feature loudly.
The former union leader is widely referred to as a "political animal". He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has said he's victim of political persecution.
"And don't forget, Lula is free to walk but he has not been acquitted so he can not be a candidate", added Barreto.
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