Brazil Anti-Corruption Judge Bows Out of Race for President

(Bloomberg) -- Former Brazilian Supreme Court Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa said on Tuesday he will not run for the country’s top job, pulling one of the highest-profile hopefuls from this October’s race.

"It’s decided. After several weeks of much reflection, I finally reached a conclusion. I don’t intend to be a candidate for the President of the Republic. Strictly personal decision," Barbosa said on his verified Twitter account.

Barbosa, who had as much as 10 percent of support in opinion polls even without being a candidate yet, has the image of a clean and experienced outsider many Brazilians are looking for to put their country back on track. In March, political consultancy Eurasia said the former judge potentially had the "best profile in the field" of candidates. Barbosa also had one of the lowest rejection rates of the presidential hopefuls.

The nation’s currency, the real, trimmed losses after the announcement and then weakened to a fresh year-to-date low amid continued election uncertainty and a stronger U.S. dollar. While considered a moderate, Barbosa’s economic thinking was relatively unknown and investors prefer more market-friendly hopefuls such as former Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin.

Barbosa had joined the Brazilian Socialist Party, or PSB, in April, raising the prospect of a bid. His decision is a "shame" and the PSB will have to seek another candidate, the party’s Vice President Luiz Roberto Albuquerque said in a phone interview.

On Monday President Michel Temer said he could drop his re-election in support of a candidate who would unify centrist parties and defend his government’s legacy. In an event in Rio de Janeiro, Alckmin said the field of candidates won’t be known for certain until party conventions are held in July.

Barbosa, a 63 year-old black man raised in poverty, became a household name in Brazil during the Supreme Court’s handling of the so-called "mensalao" corruption scandal in the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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