Lula advisers eye rivals' programs to consolidate Brazil election alliances

Former Brazil's President and current presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a meeting with campaign associates for the second round of elections, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Carla Carniel

BRASILIA, Oct 4 (Reuters) - As former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva looks to consolidate his lead in the presidential race ahead of an Oct. 30 runoff, economists from his Workers Party (PT) are pushing for him to adopt proposals from candidates exiting the race.

The advisers say the idea is to attract supporters of centrist Senator Simone Tebet and former leftist lawmaker Ciro Gomes, who together got about 7% of votes in the first round on Sunday. Analysts calculate that Lula could have won the race outright with just one in five of those votes.

Policy concessions in return for endorsements would also help Lula make the case that he is building a broader center-left coalition to defeat right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro's campaign did not respond to questions about what the president would do to court the support of Tebet and Gomes.

"Our program is dynamic. It's not totally finished. It was a program that defined guidelines, programmatic points, which ... remains open," said Guido Mantega, a former finance minister during part of Lula's 2003-2010 government. "You can't want an ally without incorporating a part of their thinking."

A second adviser, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, stressed that many of the ideas in the programs of Tebet and Gomes "are in line with the principles we have developed," which should help to create alliances.

Both Tebet and Gomes told supporters on Sunday night that they would announce in coming days their decisions about endorsements in the second round. Tebet said she would definitely come out for a candidate in the runoff.

The Tebet and Gomes campaigns did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gomes has been advocating for a state-led renegotiation of consumer debts, which the PT has already cited in its national program without specifics.

Mantega said Tebet's proposals for education address a subject that is important to the PT and could be easily added to Lula's platform.

Within the Lula camp, there has been discussion of presenting more detailed economic proposals, including more detailed proposals for tax reform and specific fiscal rules he would use to replace the current constitutional spending limit.

The campaign has held back on such specific announcements, sources said, to avoid opening Lula up to attacks and internal debate as he was trying to consolidate a broad coalition to beat Bolsonaro in the first round on Sunday.

Instead, Lula has repeatedly referred back to his record in office, when his government ran a healthy budget surplus during a long boom in the price of its commodity exports.

Lula has also resisted announcing the name of his preferred finance minister if he wins the election, and advisers said such an announcement is still off the table.

Reporting by Marcela Ayres and Bernardo Caram Editing by Brad Haynes and Chizu Nomiyama

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