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Viewing cable 06SAOPAULO355, SERRA ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR OF SAO PAULO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SAOPAULO355 2006-04-03 16:04 2011-03-05 00:12 UNCLASSIFIED Consulate Sao Paulo
VZCZCXRO0812
OO RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0355/01 0931651
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031651Z APR 06
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4799
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 5947
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2134
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 2481
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0230
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 1895
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 2686
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1642
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6962
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 2815
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 2348
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 000355 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR CRONIN 
STATE PASS USTR FOR SULLIVAN/LEZNY 
TREASURY FOR OASIA, DAS LEE AND FPARODI 
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/OLAC/SHUPKA 
USDOC ALSO FOR 3134/USFCS/OIO/EOLSON/DDEVITO/DANDERSON STATE PASS EXIMBANK STATE PASS OPIC FOR DMORONESE, NRIVERA, CMERVENNE DOL FOR ILAB MMITTELHAUSER 

E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PINR BR
SUBJECT: SERRA ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR OF SAO PAULO 
REF: (A) SAO PAULO 316; 
(B) SAO PAULO 278; 
(C) SAO PAULO 206; 
(D) SAO PAULO 102; 
(E) SAO PAULO 73 

------- SUMMARY ------- 

1. On March 31, Sao Paulo Mayor Jose Serra announced his resignation and his candidacy for Governor of Sao Paulo state. After agonizing for months over whether - and how - to break his 2004 promise to voters to serve a full four-year term as Mayor in order to run for President of Brazil, Serra hesitated for only about two weeks before resigning to run for the lesser office of Governor. The critical difference, from his perspective, is that in his gubernatorial bid he will have what was so sorely lacking in his wished-for presidential campaign - the near-unanimous support of his party. Polls show he has a good chance of winning in the first round. End Summary. 

------------ ANNOUNCEMENT ------------ 

2. As expected, late in the afternoon of March 31, Jose Serra, Mayor of Sao Paulo for the past fifteen months, announced his resignation and his candidacy for Governor under the banner of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). He made the announcement at a press conference at the Anhembi Convention Center in northern Sao Paulo, and also sent a letter of resignation to the City Council. In his announcement, Serra dealt head-on with the issue of his written pledge of September 14, 2004, that "if elected Mayor of the City of Sao Paulo in the contest of October 2004, I commit myself to complete the entire four years of the mandate, without resigning the Mayor's office to become a candidate for any other elective office." In attempting to defuse the expected criticism, Serra could not resist taking yet another swipe at his predecessor in City Hall, Marta Suplicy (2001-04) of President Lula's Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT). "The opposing team...has no moral standing to open its mouth to talk about public works and everything and anything else [i.e., except Serra's broken promise]. They do not have and will not have anything else to say. After the mess they left City Hall in...and in the face of their lack of proposals and the path Brazil is on now, really there won't be anything else for them to talk about except this." He went on to say that resigning was "a difficult decision, the most difficult of my life. But it was a decision, which, though risky, was necessary. I am convinced it was the correct decision. I believe the people of Sao Paulo will understand my reasons." 

---------------------------------- GOVERNOR ALCKMIN MAKES IT OFFICIAL ---------------------------------- 

3. On the evening of March 30, Governor Geraldo Alckmin sent a letter to the President of the state Legislative Assembly communicating his own resignation, effective March 31, "in light of my decision to be a candidate for elective office in the upcoming contest of October 1, 2006." Under Article 14 of the 1988 Constitution, holders of Executive Branch offices - Governors, Mayors, Ministers, State and Municipal Secretaries - must resign six months prior to any election in which they plan to run for government office. The only exceptions are Mayors, Governors and Presidents seeking re-election; for example, President Lula does not have to resign in order to run this year. 

--------------------------- NOT A BAD CONSOLATION PRIZE --------------------------- 

SAO PAULO 00000355 002 OF 003 

4. Per refs B-C and E, Serra, who as the PSDB presidential candidate in 2002 lost to Lula, was long considered the front-runner for the party's presidential nomination this year, but was defeated by a determined Alckmin. A large part of Serra's problem was his reluctance to announce his candidacy absent strong party consensus behind him, a consensus that was denied him by Alckmin and his supporters. His promise to serve out his term required him not to appear too eager to leave; only a strong appeal from the whole party, it seemed, would offer him a graceful way out of his pledge. Alckmin, barred by term limits from seeking re-election, was not so handicapped. ]

5. As momentum swung towards Alckmin in the contest for the presidential nomination - the party leadership named him on March 14 (ref B) -- Serra supporters began to discuss the possibility of his running for Governor instead. The idea was to keep this key position of leader of Brazil's largest state (with 40 million people, an annual budget of about USD 40 billion, and a 2004 GDP of USD 190.9 billion) out of the hands of the PT, whose two candidates, Marta Suplicy and Senator Aloisio Mercadante, are to face off in a primary on May 7 (though Suplicy would reportedly like to hold it earlier). The notion of a Serra candidacy gained momentum with the March 20 publication of a "Datafolha" poll (ref A) showing that Serra could win the race in the first round with 58 percent of the vote if Mercadante were the PT candidate and with 50 percent if Suplicy were the PT candidate. In either scenario, the nearest other challenger, former Governor Orestes Quercia of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), would get at most 15 percent, according to the poll. None of the other prospective PSDB candidates appeared to resonate with voters. Under those circumstances, a Serra candidacy became all but inevitable. Several Alckmin supporters told us (ref A) that his candidacy would strengthen the ticket and be good for the party. PSDB State Deputies and Mayors visited him at City Hall to ask him to run. Representatives of other parties met with him to discuss possible alliances. 

-------------------------------------- KASSAB TAKES OVER, PROMISES CONTINUITY -------------------------------------- 

6. Serra is succeeded by Vice-Mayor Gilberto Kassab (see ref D) of the Liberal Front Party (PFL), who will serve the remaining two years and nine months of his term. Kassab has pledged to continue Serra's policies. For the time being, Serra's Secretary of Municipal Government, Aloisio Nunes Ferreira, will remain in position to help Serra keep his fingers on the pulse of municipal affairs even while on the campaign trail. Also staying on is Secretary of Services Andrea Matarazzo, who will become Secretary in SIPDIS charge of coordinating the city's 31 Assistant Mayors' Offices ("Subprefeituras"), replacing Walter Feldman, who resigned to run for Congress. Matarazzo, a Serra loyalist, former Minister and Ambassador under Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and long-time Consulate contact, had expected to play a key role in Serra's presidential campaign (ref E). 

------- COMMENT ------- 

7. Serra's gubernatorial candidacy has the potential to be a win/win for the PSDB. Political observers note that his strength in Sao Paulo will enable Alckmin to leave the campaign here in his hands and devote more attention to the critical northeast. Another clear winner is the PFL, which, in addition to the Mayorship, will hold the Governorship for the next nine months in the person of Claudio Lembo. Post will report in further detail septel on departure of important personnel at the state and local levels and other 

SAO PAULO 00000355 003 OF 003 

election-related developments. End Comment. 8. This cable was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia. 

MCMULLEN