2022 Race

Bolsonaro to join right-wing Liberal Party for re-election campaign

liberal party bolsonaro re-election
Valdemar Costa Neto, chairman of the Liberal Party. Photo: José Cruz/ABr

President Jair Bolsonaro has decided to join the right-wing Liberal Party (PL) to stand for re-election in 2022. The information was first published by newspaper O Globo and confirmed by The Brazilian Report after speaking to a high-ranking official within the party. Mr. Bolsonaro had been wavering between the PL and the Progressives party (PP), home to Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira and House Speaker Arthur Lira.

The PL is likely to have the autonomy to select Mr. Bolsonaro’s running mate in 2022.

The president had been politically “homeless” since leaving the Social Liberal Party (PSL) in 2019 and failing in his attempts to create his own far-right group, the Alliance for Brazil. Since then, Mr. Bolsonaro has been reasonably comfortable without party affiliation, but Brazilian elections do not allow independent candidacies, forcing the president to look for suitors.

In an audio message to fellow party members, which The Brazilian Report had access to, PL chairman Valdemar Costa Neto said the president “told [him] he spoke with Ciro [Nogueira], who understood his decision, and we will move forward with his membership as soon as possible.”

Once a powerful power broker in Congress, Mr. Costa Neto was forced into a political “sabbatical” after being convicted to seven years in prison for corruption in 2013. He was implicated in the Mensalão scandal, which revealed that the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration (2003-2010) paid monthly stipends to congressmen in exchange for political support.

He returned from obscurity during the Bolsonaro presidency, recommending the appointment of lawmaker Flávia Arruda as Secretary of Government — a liaison to Congress — despite the president’s campaign promises to “break with old politics” and “run an administration without the stain of corruption.”