Lula wants focus on campaign and only talks about Economy Minister after 2nd round

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In September 2018, everyone already knew that economist Paulo Guedes would move from Posto Ipiranga to Minister of Economy if Jair Bolsonaro (PL) wins. In the current campaign, Guedes remains firm as the highest-rated on the Esplanada to stay in office in an eventual second term of Bolsonaro. Some say he’s the only one with the right job.

In the case of the leader in the polls, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the name is still unknown. There are strong political reasons for the lack of nominees, say people who follow the campaign.

Lula doesn’t even want to discuss suggestions. Even to deter egos and risk of early infighting. The focus is on winning the election. Preferably in the first round. Even if this goal is reached, the definition for the main ministries, including that of the Economy, will be left for after the second round, when the state governments are defined.

Lula has been running errands. The most emphatic is that his first act, if elected, will be to hold a meeting with the governors and pacify relations between states and the Union. He has always been an alliance politician, but this competence has now escalated, given the need to guarantee governability to an eventual third term.

One of the most important pieces in this national chess is the outcome of Fernando Haddad in São Paulo. He remains firm in the leadership of the state government’s polls, but the scale of holders for the economic area is linked to the result of São Paulo.

There are correlations between who goes where, considering the State Treasury Department and Esplanada in Brasília. If he loses to governor, Haddad is a popular name for a minister.

The role of the deputy on the ticket, former governor Geraldo Alckmin, is another essential element in the decision-making process.

Alckmin personally denied the story that he would be quoted as Minister of Economy. This conversation that had been circulating backstage for almost a month. Allies had already discarded the assumption. Nobody thinks of escalating the vice to a position that can be fired. It is also said that Alckmin has more to do, as he will not be the decorative vice.

Lula also conveyed the message that he intends to travel abroad a lot. She wants to rebuild Brazil’s image, and her own. She intends to take advantage of the good relations with European heads of state to rescue environmental ties. She also wants to reconnect with emerging countries. She has the ambition to take on an international role.

People close to the campaign say that Lula’s global agenda tends to bolster Alckmin for the role of deputy manager — hence the expectation that he will be heard by Lula when the time comes to validate ministers in key posts, such as the economy. Alckmim will have to deal with them.

The so-called gang at Faria Lima, the avenue that gathers the headquarters of the country’s main financial institutions, is the most anxious to know who will protect the economy in the event of Lula’s victory.

Economists and analysts are in a hurry to set the course for fiscal policy and Petrobras. For sure, until now, the super Ministry of Economy would be dismembered, because the PT does not give up planning and industrial policy. The creation of a council of economic advisers, along the lines of what exists in the White House, is under analysis.

Turn and move, Faria Lima releases test balloons with possible quotes that it considers more palatable. The idea of ​​putting Alckmim as Minister of Economy came from there. After the denial, now they are saying that he is going to Agriculture. Another recurring name in the glass offices is that of Henrique Meirelles, former president of Lula’s Central Bank.

This Monday, Meirelles participated in an event promoted by the PT campaign, but, in an interview with Folha, conditioned his support to maintaining economic proposals similar to those of Lula’s first term.

Previous administrations had PT in the conduct of the economy

An eventual Lula 3 will be very different from Lula 1 and 2, but the history of PT administrations shows a predilection for swearing in internal party names in the economy. Antonio Palocci (January 2003 to March 2006) had a long trajectory on the left and acronym. Guido Mantega, the longest-lived minister (March 2006 to December 2014) is a personal friend of Lula’s to this day.

The only time a ‘foreigner’ took over the post the result was considered disastrous. Economist Joaquim Levy only lasted 11 months (January to December 2015).

He left the position of superintendent director of Bradesco Asset Management practically a week after the bank’s then president, Luiz Carlos Trabuco, refused the same proposal in a meeting with the recently reelected Dilma Rousseff. Lázaro Brandão, chairman of Bradesco’s board of directors, was also present at the meeting.

Levy had to fulfill the thorny mission of implementing post-electoral pragmatism — adopting an economic agenda that was very different from the one announced in Dilma’s campaign. He was incinerated by friendly fire and by the diligent bomb agendas, taken over by the then president of the Chamber Eduardo Cunha. Levy is considered the victim of the anti-impeachment room.

The PT reassumed the portfolio with a 30-year-old co-religionist, economist Nelson Barbosa (December 2015 to May 2016). That tense moment, however, comes back to mind every time Trabuco’s name reappears in informal circles about candidates for Minister of Economy.

It is already clear that the next holder of the portfolio will have the challenge of working for the recovery of the Budget, in different ways. Recompose the accounts and also scratch the ground to resume the management transferred to Congress. Lula has already said that political aptitude would be a desirable attribute.

In PT circles, suggestions with partisan trajectories prevail.

Deputy Alexandre Padilha (PT-SP), who was Minister of Institutional Relations in the Lula government, Minister of Health in the Dilma government and knows that Alckmin. He competed with him, and lost, the election for governor of São Paulo in 2014.

Wellington Dias, who left the position of governor of Piauí to run for a seat in the Senate. Economist Rui Costa, governor of Bahia, ending his second term with a successful trajectory.

There is an expectation that Alckmin can make his suggestion, in an eventual liberal alliance in the economy. Important names in this current adopted the social agenda, which would facilitate an eventual approximation. The party’s president, deputy Gleise Hoffmann (PT-PR), for example, was interested in the repositioning of economist André Lara Resende. One of the formulators of the Real Plan, he considers the macroeconomic prescription adopted in the country to be outdated.

Alckmin’s favorite, everyone knows, is economist Pérsio Arida, who coordinated the economic program in the 2018 presidential race. Arida has the stuff and the curriculum.

One of the fathers of Plano Real, he was president of the Central Bank and BNDES, as well as co-founder of BTG Pactual. He has given contributions to all candidates. He is in the so-called group of six, which brought together progressives around the elaboration of a proposal for the next government.

Arida has no affinity with the PT agenda, and the converse is true. People close to him say it would be difficult to convince him if his name gains traction. It is easier for his girlfriend, Priscila Cruz, executive president and co-founder of the Todos pela Educação movement, to participate in some PT administration.

Of course, anything is possible in politics, even if Arida is not political. The demonstration of this was the symbolic gesture of signing the economists’ manifesto in defense of Rodrigo Garcia’s reelection to the government of São Paulo. PT members interpreted the adhesion as a sign.

While the campaign game follows, there is no shortage of bets for all sides. Senator Jaques Wagner (PT-BA) is constantly cited as an option for the Civil House. Fired by Bolsonaro, former director of Inpe (National Institute for Space Research), Ricardo Galvão could be Minister of Science and Technology.

Former minister Aloízio Mercadante, who currently participates in the coordination of the government plan, has also been cited for this post. Petrobras could have a new female president, Magda Chambriard, former director general of the ANP (National Agency for Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels). But at this point in the campaign, it’s all conjecture.

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