Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Serra waits, a bit too patiently, for the presidency

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on February 4, 2010

by The Economist, February 4, 2010.

The front-runner in Brazil’s coming presidential contest has done a decent job running its biggest state. But to keep his lead he must get campaigning.

With almost 30m voters and a population greater than Canada’s and on a par with Argentina’s, the giant industrial state of São Paulo is accustomed to playing a big part in choosing Brazil’s presidents. The retiring incumbent, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, both had their political roots in the state. The front-runner so far in this year’s race, José Serra, has been the state’s governor for the past three years. He has suffered much criticism of late, as heavy rains have caused flash floods, landslides and collapsing roads, resulting in around 70 deaths. Despite the accusations of failing to improve the state’s flood defences, Mr Serra’s team still think his record as governor is solid enough to carry him to the presidency in October’s election.

Brazil’s rising economic and diplomatic muscle means that the job of running it is becoming an ever bigger one. With an impressive record as an academic, minister and state governor, Mr Serra is surely a strong candidate to fill the post. But he is a curious character. A friend says he announced that he would become president of Brazil when he was just 17. Colleagues describe a nocturnal control freak with a stubborn streak. Paulo Renato Souza, a former cabinet colleague of Mr Serra and now his state education secretary, remembers him telephoning in the middle of the night, demanding information…(continue reading)

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