The Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), Brazil’s biggest political party, and part of the coalition that sustains president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, reelected Michel Temer as its president last weekend.
A dissident part of the PMDB filed a lawsuit to make the party stick to its original schedule and hold its convention in March. But Temer and his group showed their power and rammed a new date through and the convention took place when they wanted it to – the beginning of February.
Behind the scenes and under the tables everything was about the presidential election next October. But Brazilian electoral legislation is rigid, extensive and detailed. Presidential candidates can only be chosen in June and the campaign begins in July – no exceptions.
So, at the PMDB convention all the above board action was to choose party officials who will be in control for the next year, during the presidential election. The PMDB has offices in 4,671 municipalities around Brazil – far more than any other party. They have nine governors. Six ministers in the Lula administration are members of the PMDB, as are 91 deputies and 17 senators in Congress.
Most of the PMDB thinks Michel Temer would be a very good vice presidential candidate on the Dilma Rousseff (PT) ticket. He is the president of the House of Representatives.
There was a dispute for the PMDB vice presidency, with senator Valdir Raupp (from Rondônia) elected and his opponent, senator Romero Jucá (Roraima), elected third vice president. The second vice president elected was deputy Iris Araújo (Goiás).
The reason for the dispute is that the position of first vice president in the PMDB is considered vital because if Temer is a vice presidential candidate on a PT-PMDB ticket he must resign the PMDB presidency and the PMDB vice president will become the party president.
The convention was an opportunity to skip around the borders of Brazil’s strict electoral legislation. So, not everything about the October presidential election was behind the scenes or under tables.
For example, the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, came out publicly in favor of a PT-PMDB presidential ticket with Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer (there was some local politics in Cabral’s announcement; an attempt to outflank one of his rivals, Anthony Garotinho, who has invited Dilma to campaign together with him in Rio).
The minister of Institutional Relations, Alexandre Padilha, called the idea of a PT-PMDB ticket a great idea. “The reelection of Temer as president of the PMDB strengthens the proposition of an alliance with minister Dilma,” Padilha said, but without specifying a name for vice president. As for Temer himself, he said the decision would be up to the party and that the party would decide in the future.
Temer’s powerful position in the PMDB could be seen in the number of important figures who came to see him anointed, that is, elected president of the party and the party’s choice for a vice presidency spot. Among the governors present, besides Cabral, were Paulo Hartung (ES), José Maranhão (PB), André Puccinelli (MS), Carlos Henrique Gaguim (TO) and Eduardo Braga (AM).
Three ministers were also there: Hélio Costa (Communications), who is expected to run for governor of Minas Gerais, Geddel Vieira Lima (National Integration), who is expected to run for governor of Bahia and Alexandre Padilha (Institutional Relations).
And, finally, last but not least, the president of the Central Bank, Henrique Meirelles, who just recently joined the PMDB and has also been mentioned as a candidate for many different positions, including Dilma Rousseff’s vice president.