Brazil’s ‘third way’ contenders prepare to challenge Bolsonaro

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Brazilian Policy Updates

With just over a year of the presidential elections, the Brazilian political landscape is increasingly dominated by two polarizing figures: the outgoing far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro and the former left-wing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The difficult choice between the two has prompted moderates to establish a ‘third way’ candidate – a centrist who can woo voters disillusioned with far-right radicalism and the history of corruption under the workers’ party. by Lula.

“Brazil urgently needs a project for the country. The third way should not start from personalities, but from the identification of agendas which are neither represented by [Lula or Bolsonaro]”said Alessandro Vieira, senator for the centrist Citizenship party.

The movement, however, still lacks a single star to unite supporters. Since Lula and Bolsonaro may depend on loyal support bases, a wide range of third-way candidates would divide the vote and reduce the chances of any centrist progressing to the second round of the two-round voting system in Brazil.

Here are the key figures who are positioning themselves to become the “neither Lula nor Bolsonaro” candidate ahead of the party primaries early next year.

Ciro Gomes

Lawmaker with the Democratic Labor Party

A pugnacious pillar of the Brazilian center-left, Ciro Gomes claims national recognition, having already contested – and lost – three presidential elections. Gomes, known simply as Ciro, is a lawyer from a powerful political family in Ceará, northeastern Brazil. Its longevity in the public eye, however, means it is associated with the “old politics” of backstage haggling and deals. Ciro also has a reputation for having an ego. After failing in the first round of the 2018 elections, he refused to support the left-wing candidate challenging Bolsonaro in the second round and instead flew to Europe. Estimated first round support: 11% (XP / IPESPE).

João Doria

Governor of São Paulo

João Doria is closely associated with São Paulo’s economic elite. The wealthy businessman, who served as mayor of Latin America’s largest city before becoming state governor, has a reputation for being an effective manager. He spearheaded the deployment of Covid-19 vaccinations at a time when the federal government was dragging its feet. Doria, however, is considered a careerist and has little notoriety or support outside of Brazil’s top earners. He will face a difficult primary from other members of the center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party and critics will soon remind him of his support for Bolsonaro in 2018. Estimated support in the first round: 5% (XP / IPESPE).

Sergio Moro

Anti-transplant judge

At one point, Sergio Moro was the most popular public figure in Brazil. As a federal judge in the long-standing anti-corruption investigation into Lava Jato, or Car Wash, he was celebrated as a hero by many center-right members and portrayed at rallies as a chested superman. barrel. His reputation took a hit after joining the Bolsonaro administration in 2019, less than two years after putting Lula in jail for corruption. Moro left the government after a year, but his image was further damaged when the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that he had shown bias in Lula’s trial in 2017. Moro currently works in the private sector, but his name was presented as a potential presidential candidate for the center-right Podemos party. Estimated first round support: 9% (XP / IPESPE).

Rodrigo Pacheco

President of the Senate

As President of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco holds one of the most visible positions in Brazilian politics. Despite his perceived closeness to Bolsonaro, he was praised for his skillful diplomacy in his dealings with Congress and the executive. He also brushed off some of the president’s excesses. When Bolsonaro recently threatened to overturn next year’s elections, Pacheco warned him of becoming an “enemy of the nation.” Pacheco, a member of the center-right Democratic Party, could face a difficult primary race from Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the former popular health minister who tried to bring scientific rigor to the early stages of Brazil’s response at Covid-19. Estimated first round support: 1% (XP / IPESPE).

José Luiz Datena

TV presenter

José Luiz Datena is the political outsider. Thanks to his television show Brazil Urgent, where he reports gruesome and sensational crimes and police operations, the journalist and presenter is well known across the country. His campaign has the backing of the right-wing Social-Liberal Party – the same party Bolsonaro used to contest the 2018 elections before severing ties with them shortly after. Datena, who has little political experience, believes he can push right-wing voters away from the president. Estimated first round support: 5% (XP / IPESPE).


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