Luciano Huck won't take part in the 2018 election. Photo: Facebook
luciano huck election competitive candidates 2018

Luciano Huck won’t take part in the 2018 election. Photo: Facebook

It seems that TV presenter Luciano Huck won’t be running for president after all. For the second time since November, Huck has declared he won’t be on the presidential ticket. For months, parties have tried to lure him away from his Saturday afternoon program into political life. Huck himself entertained the idea: he consulted advisors, talked to marketers, hired pollsters – the whole nine yards.

In the end, however, it was not a great deal for Huck. Despite being the “candidate” (although he never presented himself as one) with the highest ceiling, it makes sense for the TV presenter to stay put. To leave his uber-lucrative deal with TV Globo, Huck would reportedly have to pay a fine of 150 million BRL. Between his marketing deals and salary, his annual income amounts to around 70 million BRL.

And of course, by not running, Huck manages to avoid public scrutiny over his business.

And give up all those perks for a shot in the dark? No thanks, Huck has decided. He claims, however, that he’ll “remain engaged with making Brazil a better country” – whatever his engagement might be.

Huck’s withdrawal causes the 2018 election to become especially uncertain. In January, a court of appeals confirmed a conviction for corruption and money laundering against former President Lula da Silva, the front-runner in all polls. The verdict makes him virtually ineligible for office.

With Huck out and Lula halfway gone, who has a real chance to win the presidency?

What do the polls say?

Candidates tend to downplay polls at this early stage of the election year. Especially those polling at low levels (we’re looking at you, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles). But polls show that no candidate polling at less than 5 percent in February of the election year has ever qualified for the runoff stage the following October. And that minimum goes up to 7 percent during the month of March.

So far, at least 18 names have been seriously considered in the polls – yet only 8 of them have so far reached those “minimum” 5 percent. If the same logic of previous elections is applied to 2018, the truly competitive candidates would be as follows: Lula (who might not run); far-right Jair Bolsonaro; environmentalist Marina Silva; center-left-winger Ciro Gomes; São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin; TV host Luciano Huck (now claiming he’s out); São Paulo Mayor João Doria; and former Supreme Court Justice Joaquim Barbosa (whose candidacy is a longshot).

But as one political analyst once told me: “This is politics, and this is Brazil. Anything can happen.”

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PowerFeb 16, 2018

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.