BRASILIA – The controversial policies put in place by Brazilian President Michel Temer were backed on Wednesday by several candidates for October’s presidential election, considered to be one of the most uncertain elections in Brazil’s history.
Even though Temer’s approval rate is barely 4 percent, candidates Geraldo Alckmin, Marina Silva, Jair Bolsonaro and Alvaro Dias announced that they supported – with some nuances – the president’s policies while speaking at a business summit focusing on the elections.
Former Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles also backed Temer’s policies, which is not surprising, as Meirelles is the architect of many of the president’s reforms, including public spending cuts and a new labor law that has been denounced by unions.
Meirelles seeks to be the presidential candidate of the governing Brazilian Democratic Movement party.
The only candidate who criticized Temer’s reforms was Ciro Gomes, of the Democratic Labor Party, who, despite the businessmen’s booing, reiterated that the labor law was “savage” and that he would work “from day one” to revoke it.
Gomes also said he would raise taxes on large fortunes to reduce taxes on the poor and the middle class.
Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro not only supported Temer’s policies, but also demanded that the private sector and the market be granted more liberties, since businessmen “should rule.”
Marina Silva, presidential candidate for Brazil’s Sustainability Network Party (REDE), also expressed her support for the private sector.
“We need a government that reduces taxes” and “promotes” the private sector to spur development and allow citizens to “offer their best for the country,” Silva said in her speech during the summit organized by the National Industrial Confederation (CNI).
This is Silva’s third presidential bid, as she ran for president in 2010 and 2014, coming third on both occasions.
Even though Silva started her political career in the left-leaning Workers Party (PT), she has veered right in the last few years, to the point that she stated on Wednesday that the private sector was “essential” to provide Brazilians with “education, transportation and a quality health system.”
Electoral polls suggest that the results of October’s election will be unpredictable and that the vote will be extremely atomized.
According to recent polls, some 17 percent of Brazilians plan on voting for Bolsonaro, 13 percent could vote for Silva, while Gomes, Alckmin, Dias and Mireilles are polling in the single digits.
The leader in the polls continues to be former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who was recently jailed on corruption charges, barring him from running for office.