Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The unofficial Brazilian presidential campaigns have begun. Former President Lula told supporters that, if it were necessary, he’d agree to run for President in 2018—no surprise there. Lula knows he should have jettisoned Dilma and run in 2014, as he’d planned to do in 2010. He can’t wait to run again.
Unfortunately for Lula’s ambitions, several prominent people want to be President right now, or at least in early 2016.
VP Temer first said Brazil needs someone to bring it together, then said Dilma can’t last three more years with such impopularity. If she resigns, as he hopes, Temer takes over as President immediately and serves out her term. He can’t wait.
Opposition party PSDB has exhorted the Electoral Tribunal to declare the 2014 election invalid. This would mean calling a new election within 90 days. PSDB’s prior losing candidates Aécio, Alckmin and Serra all think they can win an election in 2016. They can’t wait.
During the ninety-day transition, Brazil’s interim president would be Chamber president Eduardo Cunha—unless he’s indicted. If so, Senate president Renan Calheiros would succeed—unless he too is indicted. Both of them can wait.
This is a nightmare scenario, unlikely to happen, but still possible. If not, we await 2018.
Also awaiting 2018 is Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Eduardo Paes. When he leaves office in late 2016, the Olympic Games will have been successful and a number of infrastructure projects will be complete. He’s not been involved in corruption allegations. He’s now age 45, younger by far than any of the other probable candidates.
Paes has been chameleonic in his party affiliation, migrating from Green Party to DEM, PSDB and finally PMDB, now Brazil’s most powerful political party. How does he remain in the public eye between 2016 and 2018? Perhaps a prominent Federal Ministry, appointed by the President—whoever that may be.
The Curmudgeon admits his crystal ball is cloudy, but he still thinks Dilma will not be President in 2018–or even 2017.