A Powerful, Right-Wing Party Emerges in Brazil Without Bolsonaro
(Bloomberg) -- A new right-wing party has emerged in Brazil as the country’s conservative forces seek to gobble up the largest portion of public funds available for next year’s elections while breaking free from the influence of President Jair Bolsonaro.
Brazil Union, as the alliance officially launched on Wednesday is called, has among its ranks five state governors, two cabinet members and more than 80 lawmakers, including senate head Rodrigo Pacheco. As the largest party in congress, it will control about one-sixth of an electoral fund of 5.7 billion reais ($1 billion) set aside for next year.
Access to public money will be crucial for the survival of political groups in 2022, when Brazil is poised to face a polarized election that will possibly pit the far-right Bolsonaro against leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Brazil has more than 30 political parties, most of them without a clear ideology, that are often created or extinguished according to convenience. It’s common for politicians to change allegiance during their careers, especially ahead of elections.
At the same time, many right-wing parties that supported Bolsonaro in 2018 are rethinking their strategy after disagreeing with some of his policies, particularly his attempts to cast doubt on the country’s electronic voting system.
“We profess respect for the country’s democratic institutions,” Luciano Bivar, the head of Brazil Union, said in an interview. “This is a party that respects institutions.”
Three Presidential Hopefuls
Brazil Union is a merger of the Social Liberal Party, which hosted Bolsonaro during his 2018 campaign, and the Democrats, whose origins trace back to the party that supported the country’s military rule between 1964 and 1985.
While some of its members support Bolsonaro, who currently isn’t affiliated with any political group, most presidential allies are expected to follow the incumbent as soon as he decides which party will host him as a candidate for re-election.
Brazil Union emerges with three potential presidential candidates: former Health Minister Henrique Mandetta, who gained fame after publicly challenging Bolsonaro’s strategies to combat the pandemic; Jose Luiz Datena, a popular TV host in Brazil, and Pacheco himself.
None of them receives more than 3% of voting intention in recent opinion polls, and it isn’t clear whether a third-way candidate will find space in next year’s elections.
Yet money and free TV time will boost Brazil Union’s appeal as political coalitions start being negotiated ahead of the 2022 vote.
“It will be important to see the rate at which campaign money will convert into votes,” said Sergio Abranches, a sociologist who holds a doctorate in political science from Cornell University.
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