With the deadline having passed for political parties to hold their national conventions, we know now who will be on the presidential ballot come election day on October 7 – the only question mark remaining is whether or not former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be allowed to run for a third term.
Historically, picking a running mate (not only for president, but also for gubernatorial and mayoral elections) is an important element for building coalitions in Brazil. In a multi-party system such as ours, it is not rare for parties to offer the vice presidency to different groups – as compensation for electoral support, but also as a way of making a candidacy more compelling.
For this reason, candidates from one region often pick running mates from another; people with links to one social class tend to run alongside someone who speaks to a wealthier or poorer segment; left-wing candidates choose a VP nominee more to their right, and vice versa. In this presidential race, one other tactic has been seen: male candidates choosing women to run alongside them, a strategy which aims at reaching out to broader sectors of the electorate.
Despite the candidates’ intentions, it is highly doubtful that voters will pay much attention to who will be the understudy of the official candidate – who will, in fact, receive all of the attention and resources. Still, parties have persisted with their strategy to seek different profiles for the running mate spot. While voters don’t care about who the vice president is, it can be a dealbreaker for political parties which are courted for a coalition.