By giving up his candidacy for the presidency of the republic, João Doria (PSDB) adds another remarkable episode to his short but hectic political trajectory.
After being elected mayor of São Paulo (SP) in 2016, the toucan ran for and won the election for the state government of São Paulo two years later. In recent years, he began to prepare his next flight to Brasília, where he wanted to assume the presidency of the country. However, the man who started his career insisting that he was a manager and not a politician got into an internal partisan dispute that eventually interrupted his plans.
This Monday (23/5) Doria announced that he was withdrawing from his pre-candidacy because he understands that it is not his party’s choice for the position, as he said in a statement: “Serenely, I understand that I am not the choice of the top of the PSDB. I accept this reality with my head held high.”
The ex-governor and ex-mayor of São Paulo won the primaries as a candidate for president of the toucans, but names and internal wings of the acronym little by little undermined his project — in part because of numbers that indicated a low chance of victory. in part due to an articulation between PSDB, MDB and Citizenship that could make the name of Senator Simone Tebet (MDB) a candidate.
Check out seven remarkable moments from Doria’s political career below.
1. Elected mayor in the first round
Underlining his career as a businessman, Doria took part in his first election contest, in front of the São Paulo City Hall, sponsored by the then governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin. In fact, his image as a business manager had already been boosted by the the intern, of which he was the presenter. He also founded the Business Leaders Group (Lide).
Although he did not run until 2016, Doria had already had passages in public life, such as when he was Municipal Secretary of Tourism and President of the São Paulo Tourism Company (Paulistur) in the 1980s and President of the Brazilian Tourism Company (Embratur ).
Affiliated with the PSDB in 2001, Doria won the party’s primaries for Mayor of São Paulo, and was elected in the first round in 2016, with 53% of the vote. He defeated Fernando Haddad (PT), Celso Russomanno (then PRB, now Republicans) and Marta Suplicy (MDB), who were in second, third and fourth place in the votes, respectively.
The toucan was chosen with the promise of making a term “standard Poupatempo”, referring to the program of the government of Alckmin (PSDB). “We’re going to do the job efficiently and quickly, in addition to working twice as hard,” Doria said at the time.
2. Resignation from the office of mayor and victory in the dispute for the state government
The then mayor took office in January 2017 and announced in March 2018 that he would resign from the office of mayor to run for state government. During the 2016 election campaign, Doria had indicated several times that he would serve his term until the end. Taking his place in the São Paulo Executive was the toucan Bruno Covas.
Doria wrote at the time that he “could not refuse this important call”: “The absolute majority of the representatives and leaders of my party made this call.”
In the second round, the toucan had 51.75% of the vote, beating Marcio França (PSB) in a close match, taking 48.25% of the vote.
3. Accusations of treason against Alckmin and formation of ‘BolsoDoria’
Before signing his candidacy for the government of São Paulo, Doria showed signs that he was looking forward to leaving the city of São Paulo to run for president in 2018, in fact he ended up becoming the toucan candidate for the Plateau in the end. Alckmin has made statements indicating a rift and betrayal on the part of Doria.
Another reason for the disagreement between them was Doria’s errant relationship with Jair Bolsonaro, the 2018 candidate who was elected president. Although Doria and Bolsonaro had previously exchanged barbs, in 2018 a movement of supporters and some politicians, nicknamed “BolsoDoria”, emerged to defend the vote in the first for governor of São Paulo, and in the second for Brazil’s presidency.
Officially, in the first round, Doria declared that his candidate for president was his fellow believer Alckmin, but from the second round, Doria openly defended Bolsonaro’s candidacy in the dispute with Haddad for the presidency. There are even pictures of Doria wearing a shirt with the hashtag #BolsoDoria.
The approximation of the names of Doria and Bolsonaro in 2018 did not last long, and during the coronavirus pandemic that began in 2020, they were the protagonists of a real rivalry – against the backdrop of the political pretensions of both centered on the dispute for the presidency in 2022.
While Bolsonaro took a negative stance on the seriousness of the pandemic and solutions based on scientific evidence, Doria built an opposing view. This contrast between the two is symbolized by the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac. The president rejected the immunizer, doubting its quality and effectiveness. Meanwhile, Doria took political advantage of the partnership between Sinovac and the Butantan Institute – a public health institution of the government of São Paulo – for the production of doses. The first person to be vaccinated in Brazil, a nurse, was vaccinated with CoronaVac in São Paulo.
In an English interview for BBC World News, Doria called Bolsonaro “crazy” and claimed that Brazil was dealing with two viruses, the coronavirus and the “Bolsonaro virus”. Meanwhile, the president accused Doria of making “politics about the dead” and of inflating numbers related to Covid-19 in São Paulo.
This period also saw some minor protests against Doria and against restrictive measures in response to Covid-19, with Bolsonaro supporters taking to the streets of São Paulo (SP) to demonstrate against the shutdown of trade during the pandemic and against the compulsory vaccination passport, among other things.
5. Victory in the previews
In November 2021, Doria won the PSDB primaries to determine the party’s candidacy for president. He had 53.99% of the vote, beating Rio Grande do Sul governor Eduardo Leite (44.66%) and former Manaus mayor Arthur Virgílio Neto (1.35%). 29,360 members of the PSDB voted.
“The PSDB is being strengthened. It is the only party that promotes this broad democratic process. The only party that consults its bases, its affiliates, politicians and leaders on who should lead the process of change in Brazil. Our commitment is democracy,” Doria celebrated in his victory speech in the primaries, in which he called for party unity.
In his speech, Doria also accused the PT governments of corruption and mismanagement in the economy, and Bolsonaro of representing “violence against democracy”.
6. Letter on ‘Coup Attempts’
In recent months, words about unions have been exchanged over allegations of non-compliance with the rules within the PSDB and the threat of prosecution. In mid-May, Doria sent a letter to party chairman Bruno Araújo denouncing “coup attempts” to remove his candidacy for president.
Since the election, major PSDB names have championed a single ticket with Citizenship and MDB, possibly with Simone Tebet (MDB) heading the ticket; others, such as federal deputy Aécio Neves, argued that the PSDB should have its own candidacy – but not Doria, due to the high rejection rate. In contrast, former minister and former toucansator Aloysio Nunes even announced support for former president Lula (PT).
Doria asked Araújo to respect the results of the primaries and stressed that he could take the case to court if his pre-candidacy was not respected.
7. Withdrawal of the application
Doria called for a statement made this Monday (23/5) announcing his withdrawal from the candidacy for the presidency – less than two months after his resignation from the state government targeting the Planalto.
“The PSDB will know how to make the best decision in its positioning for this year’s elections,” he said. “I withdraw from the dispute with a wounded heart, but with a light soul. With the unmistakable sense of duty accomplished and mission accomplished.”
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