Who are the candidates for Brazil’s vice president?

. Aug 07, 2018
ciro gomes katia abreu vice president brazil 2018 election presidential race Ciro Gomes chose Sen. Katia Abreu to be his vice president

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. 

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Voters, however, should pay more attention to the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">matter</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. In Brazil, after all, seeing a vice president replace the head of state is not uncommon. In 1985, José Sarney stepped up when Tancredo Neves died shortly before his inauguration; in 1992, Itamar Franco took over from the impeached Fernando Collor; the same happened when Michel Temer replaced Dilma Rousseff &#8211; after having actively conspired to get her removed from the presidency.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">More than a &#8220;bonus&#8221; pick, a vice president can be perceived as a risk: an unsatisfied or over-ambitious understudy can become a dangerous adversary.</span></p> <h2>Assessing the vice president candidates</h2> <p><iframe src=";color=%236fa9f8&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="166" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The leader in all polls (when Lula is not considered as a candidate), far-right Jair Bolsonaro signed a <a href="">coalition</a> with a party just as lilliputian as his own &#8211; and got a vice-presidential nominee who is, not unlike Mr. Bolsonaro, a retired member of the military: General Hamilton Mourão.</span></p> <div id="attachment_6934" style="width: 625px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-6934" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-6934" src="" alt="bolsonaro vice president mourao brazil 2018 election" width="615" height="300" srcset=" 615w, 300w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 615px) 100vw, 615px" /><p id="caption-attachment-6934" class="wp-caption-text">Jair Bolsonaro (L), and Gen. Mourão (R)</p></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s first choice, however, was Janaina Paschoal, an extravagant lawyer who co-authored the legal piece that kicked off the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff, back in 2015. Although she supports the far-right candidate, Ms. Paschoal cited personal reasons to decline a spot as his vice president. She would, however, be an asset &#8211; well known to the electorate, she could improve his image with female voters &#8211; among whom Mr. Bolsonaro is polling at half of his numbers among men.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">General Mourão recently defended a military intervention to &#8220;bring order back to Brazil.&#8221; His verbal incontinence precipitated his retirement &#8211; which allowed him to run for office. But despite what many pundits have said, Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s choice might not have been just the result of a sheer lack of options: the general could serve as a political hedge, as recently </span><a href=";utm_medium=social&amp;utm_campaign=twfolha"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A radical politician, Mr. Bolsonaro would face the risk of impeachment from day one. But, as General Mourão is just as radical, he would not be an appealing replacement. In the cases of Fernando Collor and Dilma Rousseff, Congress replaced an embattled president by someone of a different profile. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The main issue with Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s running mate goes beyond his radicalism. General Mourão was in the military barracks until very recently, which tightens the bond between the campaign and the Armed Forces &#8211; a worrisome factor, in face of Brazil&#8217;s recent history. Maybe that&#8217;s what Mr. Bolsonaro meant when he said the general would help bring &#8220;governability&#8221; to his administration.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another relevant candidate right of center (but infinitely more moderate than Mr. Bolsonaro) is Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, who chose Senator Ana Amélia, from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil&#8217;s southernmost state, as his vice president nominee. Even more conservative than Mr. Alckmin, she helps him on three fronts. First, she is a woman. Second, she helps him with voters in rural Brazil, who have been lured by the far-right campaign. And third, she strengthens his position in the wealthy southern region of Brazil, where Mr. Alckmin has been losing votes to a former ally, Senator Alvaro Dias, from Paraná.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Right now, what matters is reaching the runoff stage. So, getting stronger in the south is pivotal for Mr. Alckmin&#8217;s <a href="">struggling campaign</a>.</span></p> <div id="attachment_6933" style="width: 700px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-6933" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-6933" src="" alt="alckmin ana amelia 2018 brazil presidential race vice president" width="690" height="460" srcset=" 690w, 300w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 690px) 100vw, 690px" /><p id="caption-attachment-6933" class="wp-caption-text">Sen. Ana Amélia and Geraldo Alckmin</p></div> <h2>What about the left?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Two movements within the left merit close attention. One is the <a href="">isolation</a> of center-left candidate Ciro Gomes, who was forced to choose a running mate from within his own party. He picked Senator Kátia Abreu, a ruralist leader who migrated to the support base of Dilma Rousseff&#8217;s administration &#8211; supporting her throughout the impeachment process. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She is a vice presidential nomination that will not contribute to Mr. Gomes&#8217; electoral stock. She doesn&#8217;t bring the support of other forces, is rejected within the left for her ties to the agribusiness sector, and is met with distrust by the right for her rapprochement with Ms. Rousseff. Ms. Abreu will probably cause more harm than good to Mr. Gomes&#8217; chances.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Workers&#8217; Party, on the other side, insists on putting forward Lula as its candidate (however, in a less and less convincing way). Right now, Lula&#8217;s official running mate is former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad &#8211; but the ticket will change before election day. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If Lula is allowed to run for a third term, Mr. Haddad will be replaced by lawmaker Manuela D&#8217;Ávila, of the Communist Party of Brazil. Alternatively, if Lula&#8217;s candidacy is barred, Mr. Haddad will be the Workers&#8217; Party&#8217;s presidential candidate, with Ms. D&#8217;Ávila slotting in as his running mate. The two young candidates can build an image of renewal, but they depend on the electorate realizing they are Lula&#8217;s candidates. If that message gets across to voters, we could see the same old battle between the Social Democracy Party and the Workers&#8217; Party which we have seen since 1994.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finally, environmentalist candidate Marina Silva chose former Congressman Eduardo Jorge, from the Green Party, as her running mate. Curiously, Ms. Silva and Mr. Jorge were adversaries in the 2014 presidential election.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite what its name might suggest, the Green Party is a vast umbrella which shelters all sorts of politicians, from fundamentalist evangelicals to a former Workers&#8217; Party member who fervently defends the legalization of drugs and abortions, as is the case of Mr. Jorge. Ms. Silva&#8217;s Rede party and the Green Party, however, are tiny, with little structure nor TV and radio airtime &#8211; which will make this an uphill battle. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms. Silva&#8217;s asset is the fact that most voters already know her. She is seen as an honest and modern politician, who combines economic liberalism, social policies, and environmental concerns. But maybe that&#8217;s not enough to get over the hump.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Overall, of the five main candidacies, four have running mates who are ideologically aligned (the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">exception</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> being Mr. Gomes), four of them combine a man and a woman. Two have a candidate from São Paulo and a vice president from Rio Grande do Sul. And one great novelty: the feminine presence &#8211; which has never been bigger at this stage.

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Claudio Couto

Political scientist, head of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Master’s program in Public Policy and Administration.

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