The man hand-picked by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to restore trust in the ruling Workers Party (PT) amid Brazil’s worst political scandal in more than a decade announced Monday that he will not seek re-election as party chairman next month.
Tarso Genro, who stepped down in June as Education Minister to take the helm of the troubled PT, said he was withdrawing from the contest because he had concluded that key figures opposed his plans for restructuring the party.
Genro was supposed to have carried the standard of the Majority Camp of the PT in September’s internal election, but apparently the all powerful number two figure, former presidential chief of staff José Dirceu, effectively torpedoed his push for a thorough housecleaning.
Dirceu resigned as President Lula da Silva main advisor in June following claims in Congress that he masterminded a huge operation exchanging favors for votes and amassing financial resources, skimmed from government corporations, to fund electioneering.
Political sources said Genro wanted the PT to formally expel Dirceu along with the party’s former treasurer Delúbio Soares and former secretary-general Silvio Pereira, in order to put the scandal behind and move forward.
Genro admitted he was quitting his bid for the party leadership because most of the current Majority Camp leaders “do not agree with a new leadership pact, which could lead to a renewal of the party with greater respect for the minorities”.
Genro told reporters Monday that the PT can either attempt a “negotiated” transition or his proposal, which calls for a “rupture with the crisis, and turning a new page”.
The conflict came to light when Mr. Genro publicly urged Mr. Dirceu to desist from seeking a seat in the PT’s September 18 internal election. Dirceu responded – likewise in public – by saying that no one could take away his right to continue participating in the decision-making process within the PT.
With Genro’s withdrawal from the race, the Majority Camp’s candidate for PT chairman will be Ricardo Berzoini, who resigned last month as Brazil’s Labor Minister.
Seven other factions have put forward candidates for the PT chairmanship, reflecting growing divisions in the party, which former union leader Lula founded in 1980 while battling the country’s military regime.
Almost all of the PT’s minorities are groups strongly opposed to the fiscally conservative economic policies President Lula has followed since taking office January 2003.
This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.