Brazil’s Maia throws his hat into the electoral ring

January 11, 2018

Latin News

On 10 January, Brazil's centre-right party Democratas (DEM) said it would nominate the head of the federal chamber of deputies Rodrigo Maia as a presidential candidate for the October general election.

Significance: Maia’s presidential nomination will be confirmed at the DEM party convention on 28 February. If he decides to run, this could shake up the pool of centrist candidates eyeing up Brazil’s top job. The other main possible centrist candidates are: Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles from the Partido Social Democrático; and São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin from the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB).

Maia said he was “enthusiastic” about representing the political centre but remains coy as to whether he will run for president. He wants to avoid making the same mistakes as Meirelles, who said he might run too early and was widely criticised for getting distracted from his current job.

Both Maia and Meirelles are pro-government candidates but there may not be space in the electoral arena for both to run. Behind the scenes, Maia appears to be undercutting Meirelles by shoring up support from allied centrist parties in the federal congress such as the Partido Progressista (PP) and Solidariedade.

Additionally, Maia has committed to a series of high-profile visits fit for a presidential candidate. Over the weekend (13-14 January), he will fly to the US to meet the United Nations Secretary General Antônio Guterres and dine with journalists and diplomats. From there he goes onto Cancún, Mexico, for an economic forum. On his return, Maia may act as interim president if Temer is well enough to travel to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Looking Ahead: A key date for all centrist candidates is the appeal trial of former president and Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) leader, Lula da Silva, scheduled for 24 January. If the court upholds Lula's conviction for corruption charges, he will not be able to stand for eleciton, increasing the chances that a centrist candidate will win the October presidential election.

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Latin American Newsletters (LatinNews) was founded in London in 1967 to provide expert political, economic, and security analysis on Latin America and the Caribbean. For nearly 50 years, it has been acknowledged as the foremost authority on the region.

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