Panel SA: Wave of entrepreneurs in 2018 politics loses strength in 2022

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The wave of business engagement in politics, which was so much talked about in the 2018 elections, withered in 2022.

Big names like Flávio Rocha, from Riachuelo, who was a presidential candidate for the PRB in the last election, do not intend to get directly involved in this race. He argued, years ago, that the business community needed to “get out of the woods” politically.

Flávio Rocha’s nephew, Gabriel Kanner, who tried to be a federal deputy at the time, also retires now. Kanner even gained prominence in the leadership of a group of businessmen called Brasil 200 to defend his positions on Social Security and tax reforms in Congress, but he recently walked away from the cause.

At the time, the movement was attributed by the entrepreneurs themselves to a sense of mission and indignation. The vector appears to have been channeled in another direction this year. In Kanner’s opinion, the difficulties of the pandemic may have influenced the decision of some entrepreneurs, who needed to focus on business.

“In my case, there has been a lot of opportunity in the private sector to work with various projects to generate employment and income for development in the hinterland, in the Northeast, and also in the favelas. We are developing many businesses with potential”, says Kanner.

Eduardo Mufarej, founder of Renova BR, a political training school for candidates, says he sees a less open field than four years ago.

Another name that made noise in the last election, João Amoêdo withdrew in the midst of a rift between bolsonaristas and anti-bolsonaristas in the New Party, which he himself founded with the sympathy of a significant part of the business community.

In private conversations, a shareholder of a large company experienced in elections attributes the retreat to the perception that the opportunity cost of approaching politics has become too high. The risk of tarnishing the personal image and damaging the business is high, he says.

The weakness of the third way and the disappointment with the advancement of the center in government also contributed to frightening political ambitions in the private sector, withering the climate of renewal in 2018.

Candidate for the Federal District government in 2018, Alexandre Guerra, from the family that owns Giraffas, says he will not launch this year due to the internal projects of his business. He says that there is a certain discouragement with issues such as the party fund, but that there are still businessmen putting their names and that he himself remains enthusiastic about his party, the Novo.

Disappointment is not limited to elective positions. Salim Mattar, from Localiza, who left the Bolsonaro government’s privatization secretariat, came out complaining about the difficulty in winning over the establishment.

Elected in 2018 in the wake of business engagement at the time, federal deputy Vinicius Poit (Novo-SP), who this year runs for governor of SP, says that there is a lack of representatives of small businesses in politics. “There needs to be more entrepreneurs, small businessmen. The citizen who is at the forefront is poorly represented”, he says.

Joana Cunha with Andressa Motter and Paulo Ricardo Martins

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