August 3, 2017 / 8:42 PM / 2 years ago

Brazil's PSDB says to pick presidential candidate as soon as December

Brazil's President Michel Temer (L) and Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin are pictured during the Brazil-Sweden Business Council at Bandeirantes Palace in Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The Brazilian Social Democratic Party, President Michel Temer’s biggest ally, plans to launch its candidate for the 2018 presidential elections as soon as December, the party’s two most senior leaders said on Thursday.

Senators Aecio Neves and Tasso Jereissati said the decision will be taken at a national convention where the party will also elect a new leadership. Jereissati has been PSDB interim president since May, when Neves requested a license to defend himself against corruption charges.

If there is more than one PSDB candidate for Brazil’s presidency, the party will hold a primary election in February or March, Neves told journalists after meeting Jereissati.

São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin and city mayor João Doria Jr are seen as PSDB’s most likely candidates in 2018.

The party governed Brazil between 1995 and 2002, during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, and has often campaigned in favor of pro-market reforms to cut public spending and reduce the state’s role in the private sector.

The PSDB decision to announce a candidate as soon as December highlights the short window of opportunity for Temer to press ahead with its economic agenda in Congress before next year’s election campaign dominates public debate and creates rifts between his allies.

Neves, who lost the 2014 election to Dilma Rousseff by a slim margin, had been tipped as another potential contender until he was accused in May of taking bribes from the billionaire owners of meatpacker JBS SA. He denies any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Eduardo Simões; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Sandra Maler

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