Tuesday, 20 January 2009

São Paulo/Brazil Politics: Alckmin Accepts Appointment to Governor Serra's Cabinet. Who Wins and Who Loses With That?

''Lo bueno si breve, dos veces bueno,´´ used to say Spanish philosopher Baltazar Gracián. ''Less is more,´´ is probably the closest you have in English to it. Yesterday, former São Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckmin (photo, left) was appointed by current Governor José Serra (photo, right) to the post of Development Secretary. Clearly there was a political move here. Who wins and who loses with this?

1) Serra -- winner. Why? This only opens more space for his presidential candidacy in 2010. By tapping Alckmin to a post at the state governorship, Serra is making him the opposition Social Democracy Party's candidate for the government of São Paulo. The PSDB has no other candidate than Alckmin for that post.
2) Alckmin -- winner. Why? Alckmin's career was over by the moment he lost a run-off with President Lula in the 2006 election. His failed attempt to divide the PSDB-Democratas party coalition last year by entering the mayoral race for the city of São Paulo apparently was the last nail on his coffin. But Serra, as opportunistic as he is, saw a chance to dilute Alckmin's potential opposition to his presidential bid ... by naming him to his cabinet. And putting him again on track to run as a candidate for governor in two years.
3) Aecio Neves -- loser. Why? Neves (photo, centre) is as strong a candidate for 2010 as Serra is. Neves, the governor of Minas Gerais state, counted on Alckmin to oppose a potential Serra candidacy -- or at least tame Serra's chances inside São Paulo. With a truce between Serra and Alckmin being apparently signed, Neves is seeing his chances of winning the presidential nomination by the PSDB going up in smoke.

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