Brazil's Pro-Business Candidate Won't Win Alone, Protege Says

(Bloomberg) -- The most promising of the market-friendly candidates in Brazil’s presidential race won’t win without the support of a wider coalition of centrist parties, his protege said.

Former Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin needs all the help he can get, particularly from President Michel Temer’s MDB party, to make it to a run-off vote in October, said Joao Doria, a millionaire businessman from Alckmin’s PSDB party who resigned as Sao Paulo’s mayor to run for governor.

Brazil's Pro-Business Candidate Won't Win Alone, Protege Says

“We have to consolidate his candidacy, we need more support,” Doria said at an interview in New York after a public opinion poll showed Alckmin slipping to fourth from third position in the presidential race. “My party is strong but not enough to push him into the second round.”

Alckmin’s lackluster performance in the polls is unnerving investors who fear the presidential race is heading to a showdown between leftist Ciro Gomes, who overtook Alckmin in the poll, and far-right lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro. Centrist names committed to carrying on Temer’s economic plans have so far failed to excite voters in an election marked by deep anti-establishment sentiment.

Pragmatic Alliances

“If we are to win the election, we need to be pragmatic,” Doria said. “If you don’t do that, the second round will be between Ciro Gomes and Bolsonaro,” he warned.

Doria said his PSDB party should have no qualms about defending Temer’s legacy despite the president’s extremely low approval ratings. The government has done a good job in turning the economy around, he said, and Temer’s reforms must continue.

An alliance between centrist parties is the way to avoid a “disaster” in the election but Brazil will survive no matter who wins, Doria said. “Even if we have a disaster with Bolsonaro, Brazil will survive. We are a strong country.”

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