After the 2002 presidential campaign, the PSDB (Partido da Social Democracia
BrasileiraParty of the Brazilian Social Democracy) to which belongs
former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, seemed weakened.
José Serra, the
PSDB presidential nominee lost in a crushing defeat to Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva, Brazil's current president. Serra was unable to form an official
alliance with the right-wing PFL and his campaign never gained momentum.
The strongest rival to
the PSDB, the PT (Partido dos TrabalhadoresWorkers' Party), not only
gained the presidency but also the largest block in the Congress, holding
It seemed that Brazilians
rejected the PSDB party platform in favor of the more left-leaning PT party.
But if the 2004 municipal elections say anything about Brazil's future it
is that the tucanos (toucans, the way PSDB members are called) are
trying to make a comeback in the political arena.
The PSDB is showing great
potential in several state capital mayor races throughout Brazil. In Teresina
(Piauí state), Cuiabá (Mato Grosso), Fortaleza (Ceará),
Natal (Rio Grande do Norte), Vitória (Espírito Santo), Curitiba
(Paraná) and Florianópolis (Santa Catarina) the PSDB candidate
is statistically tied for first place or is in first place.
In São Luís
(Maranhão), the PSDB candidate is in second place, in a multi-candidate
race. Also in Brazil's largest city, São Paulo, the PSDB candidate
José Serra, he who lost the 2002 presidential elections, is tied for
first place against Marta Suplicy from the PT.
But in a highly expected
run-off race between both candidates it is believed that José Serra
will win with recent polls showing a 52-40% victory margin. The PSDB faces
its strongest competition from the well organized PT party.
These early election polls
might just be a reward for the PSDB's administrative abilities or there might
be a changing political tide in favor of the PSDB party.
The increased rivalry
among the PSDB and the PT seems to be only heating up for the 2006 presidential
and gubernatorial elections.
In 2002, while losing
the presidency, the PSDB won seven governorships. In December 2003, Geraldo
Alckmin from São Paulo and Aécio Neves from Minas Gerais received
the second and third best job approval ratings of current governors in Brazil.
Last week, Aécio
Neves traveled to Rio de Janeiro to meet with César Maia from the PFL.
Maia is the current mayor of Rio and is running for re-election.
At a meeting César
Maia lauded Aécio Neves saying that he would be a "Carioca
president" if Aécio Neves ever decided to run for President. Aécio
Neves said nothing about a possible presidential bid in the future.
But this seems unlikely
considering that the Geraldo Alckmin will be unable to run for re-election
as governor of Sao Paulo in 2006 making it more likely that he will the presidential
nominee from the PSDB.
Alckmin is also benefited
by being a popular governor from a state that is a bastion for the PSDB rank
and file. Under this scenario, Aécio Neves would run for re-election
as governor of Minas Gerais and forget for now his presidential ambitions.
Or Aécio Neves
may try to capture the PSDB nomination in 2006 to face a Lula re-election
campaign. If Neves decides to run in 2010 he would benefit from running against
a new PT candidate. Either way, the prospects for a PSDB presidency in the
future are quite bright.
Daniel Torres was born in Brazil and studies economics and political science
at the University of Massachusetts. You can write him at email@example.com.