Liberal Alckmin joins Brazil Socialist Party, moves closer to Lula

Brasilia, Mar 23 (EFE).- Brazilian Liberal politician Geraldo Alckmin on Wednesday joined the country’s Socialist Party (PSB), thus moving closer on the political spectrum to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who could select him as his vice presidential running mate for the October presidential election.

Lula, with the Workers Party (PT) and the clear favorite in the upcoming vote, still has not declared his candidacy for president, but nobody is denying it either and he has already received the support of the PSB and other political parties among the country’s progressive forces.

In fact, by participating in the event, the governor of Pernambuco state, Paulo Camara, an important PSB figure, said that the party “is united around Lula’s candidacy” and is counting on Alckmin to build a “new democratic force” to confront ultra-rightist President Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for reelection.

Also speaking about the unity of the “democratic and popular” political groupings was PT president Gleisi Hoffmann, who represented Lula at the event and emphasized the “importance” of the step taken by Alckmin “for the future of Brazil,” a clear nod toward his possible vice presidential candidacy.

Meanwhile, Alckmin did not mention that prospect aloud, but he did hail the PSB decision to back Lula and said that “it’s necessary to have humility to understand that he is the one who best interprets the feelings and the hopes of the Brazilian people … (and) represents true democracy.”

Alckmin is 69 and has been in politics for five decades, during which he turned to the Social Democratic Party (PSDB), which over time it abandoned the center-left political zone where it arose in 1988 to move closer to more neoliberal and center-right positions.

He ran for president in 2006, but lost to Lula and once again represented the PSDB in the 2018 elections, coming in in fourth place with just 4.76 percent of the votes.

Even so, he retains great influence in the state of Sao Paulo, the country’s largest election district and which he governed between 2001 and 2006 and again from 2011 to 2018.

During his political career, Alckmin has been one of Lula’s most significant adversaries, differing from the PT chief in his economic views and also in terms of his absolute lack of charisma, which has earned him the nickname “Frozen Chuchu,” referring to a tropical fruit drink known in other Latin American countries as a “chayota.”

Last December, he resigned from the PSDB amid negotiations with Lula that pointed to the possibility that he might be the PT leader’s running mate in the October vote as a type of “guarantee” of economic moderation vis-a-vis the financial markets.

Lula’s wish on that score, however, is meeting resistance in the more left-leaning wings of the PT, who are pressuring for a VP candidate more closely identified with a progressive agenda and are not forgetting that Alckmin in 2016 supported the process that led to the removal from office of Lula’s protegee and successor, President Dilma Rousseff.

EFE ed/ass/laa/bp

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