From July 20 to August 5, Brazil’s political parties are allowed to hold their national conventions. These events are used to launch candidacies for the upcoming general elections and to make coalitions official. In the latter case, it is common for allies to step up onto the podium during each other’s party conventions. But on July 22, when the Social Liberal Party launches far-right Congressman Jair Bolsonaro as its presidential candidate, chances are that the party will be there all alone.
Mr. Bolsonaro has struggled to find a running mate from outside of his comfort zone. He had courted the Party of the Republic, a right-wing group led by a former convicted felon. If the alliance had prospered, the vice-presidential nominee of his dreams would have been Magno Malta, a senator-cum-evangelical crooner. But Mr. Malta didn’t want to give up on a slam-dunk reelection campaign. Then, Mr. Bolsonaro chose a retired Army General who had last year lauded the 1964 military coup in Brazil. The general said yes, but his party said ‘no’ to Mr. Bolsonaro.
It is known that most Brazilian political parties don’t act on ideology. Instead, they sniff out where the opportunities for power are, and choose their candidate based on that. Coalitions are often celebrated thanks to promises of executive positions within the government. If that’s the case, then why have parties turned away from Mr. Bolsonaro, who leads in all scenarios without former President Lula on the ballot?