President Lula (PT) intensified the creation of alliances for this year’s elections in the capitals and indicated that he intends to commit to disputes where there is a clear scenario of polarization, opposing a candidate from his allied base and another linked to former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL).
Lula must center his forces in capitals such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Porto Alegre, where disputes between Lulistas and Bolsonaristas are emerging, despite there being more than one candidacy from PT allies.
The movement was indicated by the president himself in an interview last week when talking about support for federal deputy Guilherme Boulos (PSOL) in the capital of São Paulo.
“In the capital of São Paulo it is a very special thing. A direct confrontation between the former president and the current president, it is between me and the figure [Bolsonaro]”, he told the Metrópole radio station in Salvador.
The PT will not launch a candidacy for Mayor of São Paulo for the first time. This Friday (2), former senator Marta Suplicy will return to the party after a move articulated by Lula. The Boulos-Marta ticket will face Ricardo Nunes (MDB), who is negotiating the support of PL and Bolsonaro.
In Rio and Recife, the order is to strengthen the Lulista camp with support for allies. The PT is seeking the nomination for vice president of Eduardo Paes (PSD) and João Campos (PSB) with an eye on the 2026 elections, when the current mayors will be able to resign to run for state government.
In Rio, resistance comes up against Paes himself, who has indicated a preference for a name from his surroundings. The PT continues to insist, but without tension: “We will be with the mayor, but we want to show that with the PT as vice president it becomes more competitive”, says the president of the state party, João Maurício de Freitas.
The PL candidate in Rio tends to be a name close to Bolsonaro. Federal deputy Alexandre Ramagem, target of a Federal Police operation into an alleged illegal spying scheme on opponents and authorities, is now at risk in the face of investigations.
On a trip to Pernambuco in January, Lula defended the leadership of the state PT to continue looking for vice-president in the alliance with João Campos (PSB). The president also advised, in a private meeting, that the party speak directly with the mayor about the 2026 elections.
PT members, however, say they believe that the PSB will only hand over the vacancy to the PT in the event of a direct request from Lula.
João Campos’ main opponent in Recife should be the former Minister of Tourism in the Bolsonaro government Gilson Machado Neto. The expectation is that the former president will travel to Recife by March to officially launch the ally’s pre-candidacy.
In Porto Alegre, the candidacy of deputy Maria do Rosário (PT) represents a double bet on national polarization, thanks to her decades-long clashes with Bolsonaro and the open approach of the current mayor, Sebastião Melo (MDB), to Bolsonaroism.
Rosário should have as vice-president Tamyres Filgueira, from PSOL. PT and PSOL celebrate Lula’s decision to no longer urge Manuela D’Avila (PC do B) for mayor, who ran in 2020 with the PT’s blessing, but disappointed the president by refusing to run for the Senate in 2022.
Melo had been building a broad ticket around himself, but conversations have grown in recent weeks for a third way to the liking of governor Eduardo Leite (PSDB), who could have PDT and PSB around a woman: Nadine Anflor (PSDB), former -chief of police, or Any Ortiz (Citizenship), both state deputies.
Florianópolis is another capital on the verge of polarization. Lula’s vote of 47% in 2022, surprising in Santa Catarina known for its strong Bolsonarism, had the curious effect of splitting a hitherto cohesive alliance between left-wing parties that resulted in PSOL at the head of the ticket in 2020 with PT support.
The name already released is that of state deputy Marquito (PSOL), who articulates the support of PSB and PDT. The PT, however, is rehearsing to launch former minister Ideli Salvatti in place of former councilor Vanderlei Lela, who must withdraw his pre-candidacy due to health problems.
There is still hope, however, that Lula will intervene to make Ideli “Marquito’s Marta Suplicy”, along the lines of supporting Boulos in São Paulo.
On the other side, the PL made a strategic retreat from the support that had been articulated for the current mayor Topazio Neto (PSD). After two secretaries were arrested last week, party representatives are talking about a pure-blood PL ticket. The problem is the lack of a strong name.
Curitiba is one of the capitals in which Lula’s guidance could be fundamental in keeping the broad front that elected him cohesive. Although the PT has pre-candidates, it may be forced to give up its running mate to former mayor Luciano Ducci (PSB) or state deputy Goura (PDT), second place in 2020.
The Paraná board – which today has vice-mayor Eduardo Pimentel (PSD) and former governor Beto Richa (PSDB) – could become messy if Deltan Dallagnol (Novo) manages to launch himself or enable his wife, Fernanda Dallagnol, also affiliated with Novo recently. Unless otherwise agreed by the Electoral Court, Deltan became ineligible after having his mandate as federal deputy revoked in 2023.
In Cuiabá, the opposite movement occurs. Lula entered the field to strengthen the name of state deputy Lúdio Cabral (PT) with the support of the PSD, the party of Agriculture Minister Carlos Fávaro. Despite the strength of Bolsonarism in the state, the right is split in the dispute over the succession of Emanuel Pinheiro (MDB).
Something similar could happen in Goiânia, where senator Vanderlan Cardoso, PSD pre-candidate and former Bolsonaro supporter, is trying to approach the candidacy of Adriana Accorsi (PT), federal deputy.
While intensifying articulations in cities where a polarization scenario is emerging, Lula adopts a more cautious stance in cities that will be the protagonists of a dispute between allied parties.
This is the case of Salvador, where mayor Bruno Reis (União Brasil) will face vice-governor Geraldo Júnior (MDB), who will have the support of the PT.
Opponents in Bahia, the two parties are part of the base in the National Congress. Bruno Reis negotiates support for Bolsonaro’s PL, but works for a front that includes other parties allied with Lula such as PDT, PP and Republicans.
On a visit to Bahia last week, Lula indicated support for Geraldo Júnior, but slipped up when asked about his participation in the campaign.
“We have to ground ourselves in reality. I cannot, as president of the Republic, campaign as if I were a common citizen. If there are two candidates from the government’s base competing in an election, I have to give them more respectful treatment, I cannot be vocal in supporting one of our candidates”, he said.
The scenario should be repeated in cities such as Fortaleza, Belém, João Pessoa and Aracaju. In the capital of Ceará, Lula should only engage in the PT campaign in a possible second round against Captain Wagner (União Brasil), an ally of Bolsonaro.