Like a sitting head of state. This is how Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as “Lula”, was received Wednesday November 17 by Emmanuel Macron. The charismatic leader of the Brazilian left was welcomed with all honors at the Elysee Palace: the French President did not hesitate to summon the Republican Guard for the occasion and to descend the seven steps of the palace to warmly welcome his distinguished guest.
Scheduled to last about thirty minutes, the interview between the two men finally spread over more than an hour. The exchange, described by the Elysee as ” warm “ and of ” high level “, focused on all subjects: climate, Amazonia, Latin America, Europe, globalization, etc. “I knew Lula would be well received. But I did not expect something so spectacular! Emmanuel Macron understood the importance of Brazil and Lula ”, said a member of the Brazilian team.
However, everything seems to separate these two politicians, who met Wednesday for the first time. What is in common, indeed, between the old Brazilian lion of 76 years, leader of the left, former steelworker unionist who became president from 2003 to 2011, and the young French wolf of 43 years, liberal, ex-investment banker, apostle of the “start-up nation”?
But as the year 2022 looms, the two men have discovered mutual interests. “Lula and Macron will certainly be presidential candidates next year in their respective countries and each should face a far-right populist: Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Eric Zemmour or Marine Le Pen in France. By appearing together, they show that they are engaged in the same fight for democracy ”, underlines Hussein Kalout, professor of international relations at Harvard University.
Icy relations between Macron and Bolsonaro
For Emmanuel Macron, the meeting was also the perfect opportunity to settle his old accounts with Jair Bolsonaro. The French president has never digested the mockery and insults launched against him (as well as that of his wife) during the serious diplomatic crisis of August 2019, which arose against the backdrop of fires in the Amazon. Mr. Macron then went so far as to wish that the “Brazilian people very quickly have a president who behaves at the height” of its function.
Despite a recent meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries, the relationship between Paris and Brasilia remains icy. The reception given to Lula therefore logically aroused the ire of the “Bolsonarists”. “The French population is mature and appreciates democracy. She will not feel represented by a president who meets a former convict [en justice] and who is still responsible for several prosecutions for corruption ”, reacted the deputy Carla Zambelli, close to the Brazilian head of state and president of the environment committee in the lower house.
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Former Brazilian president Lula makes a success of his European tour