The center-right candidate for the presidency of Brazil, João Doria, until recently governor of São Paulo, decided on Monday to give up the electoral race. Doria, 64, a businessman who went into politics, had become one of the biggest critics of President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration.
Although, in the first year of the pandemic, his public image was one of the best valued in the country, the data projected by the latest surveys did not accompany him. One of the most recent polls, by the National Confederation of Carriers, gave Doria 3.1% of the vote, far from the 40.6% of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the 32% of Jair Bolsonaro.
The so-called “third way”, which seeks to create an alternative between Bolsonaro and Lula, increasingly appears as a more distant option, after the withdrawal of the candidacy of the former federal judge and former Minister of Justice of Bolsonaro, Sergio Moro, questioned by the Human Rights Committee bias in the trial that led Lula da Silva to almost two years in prison.
In an unexpected act, which lasted 12 minutes and ended in tears, Doria threw in the towel by announcing that he will not stand for the October 2 elections, “with a wounded heart, but with a light soul,” he said. Doria governed for three years the most populous state and with the most thriving economy in Brazil, until last April 1, when he decided to leave his post to turn to the electoral race.
Doria highlighted in his message that the country “needs an alternative to offer voters who do not want extremes”, questioning the polarization between Lula and Bolsonaro. But his candidacy for the Social Democracy Party of Brazil (PSDB), the political space of former president Fernando Henrique Carodoso, not only found low support in the polls, but also internal divergences. “I serenely understand that I am not the chosen one by the PSDB leadership” and “I accept this reality with my head held high,” Doria said.
The third way to the duel between Bolsonaro and Lula, who is looking for a new option on the non-radical right like the one proposed by Bolsonaro, does not find a candidate. Doria announced his withdrawal one day before a meeting called by the PSDB leadership to study the prospects for the October electoral contest.
“We have an understanding of dialogue with Citizenship and with the MDB and we are going to take a step forward now,” said the president of the PSDB, Bruno Araújo, who was present at the act in which Doria announced that he was withdrawing.
Senator Simone Tebet, presidential candidate of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), also supported in a veiled way by the Citizens party, could occupy that space although the polls place her even below Doria. “As president of the PSDB, I would like us to have our own candidacy,” said the president of the PSDB, Bruno Araújo, who was present at the act in which Doria announced that he was withdrawing.
In his farewell, Doria stressed that he considered himself “a man who respects common sense, dialogue and balance.” “I have always sought and will continue to seek consensus, even if it is against my personal will.”