Country Risk

Brazil's presidential race remains wide open, outsiders likely to capitalise on unpopularity of divided pro-business centre-right groups

17 July 2018
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party, attends a meeting with businessmen from the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) in Brasilia on 4 July 2018. Source: Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP; Editorial #: 991476332

Key Points

  • The Workers Party (PT) and its imprisoned leader former President Lula will affect the electoral landscape once they choose their candidate.
  • In the meantime, all parties are trying urgently to forge alliances before the official campaign starts in mid-August.
  • With dozens of candidates seeking office and the pro-business centre-right still to agree on a unified candidate, the fractured political landscape increases the chances that an outsider from the right or left will secure office


The latest opinion polls show outsiders Jair Bolsonaro of PSL (extreme-right) and Marina Silva of Rede (centre-left) leading the race for the October presidential election.

The Brazilian presidential election will take place in less than three months, but its outcome remains highly uncertain. The latest opinion survey by pollsters Ibope and Datafolha, released in late June, show outsiders leading the race. The current voter preference is for extreme right-wing Federal Deputy Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party (PSL, Partido Social Liberal) with some 17-19% of the votes. He is technically level with centre-left former environment minister Marina Silva of Rede Sustainability (REDE, Rede Sustentabilidade), who has 13 -15% support. Another outsider from the centre-left, former Finance Minister Ciro Gomes, of the Democratic Labour Party (PDT, Partido Democrático Trabalhista), ranks third with 8-10%.

Meanwhile, support for centre-right pro-business candidates such as the former Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB, Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira), remains at around 6-7%. Other candidates of the pro-business camp such as the speaker of the Lower House Rodrigo Maia (DEM) and former Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles (MDB) register 1% or less

The Workers Party (PT) struggling to remain relevant

The Workers Party (PT, Partido dos Trabalhadores), which governed Brazil between 2003 and 2016, is facing a dilemma over who to field while its main leader, former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, is in prison on corruption charges.

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