Brazil is having its presidential election in 9 months and one prospective candidacy is drawing excitement to so many. The candidate, if he indeed goes for it, will also draw a page or two from the Trump successful campaign playbook, and why not, the two certainly have some remarkable things in common.
TV celebrity Luciano Huck appeared on Brazil’s most-watched Sunday evening show and he caught the viewers’ attention and made them glued to their seats as if they are watching a pulsating sports game the minute he started talking about politics. He gave a passionate discourse on the need to fix a broken political class, introducing ethics and altruism while mobilizing a new generation.
Huck then left some Brazilians both curious and enthralled when he gave the “punchline”: Ïf I failed to try to improve things, I’d be a coward.” Then he added, with his wife Angela standing on his side, “Whatever destiny and God want of me, I’ll go along with.”
The TV guesting of Huck is being seen by many as an indication of presidential ambitions. The matter is also of urgency to many interested quarters, especially the financial and business sectors, given that the election is just 9 months away. Said sectors are desperate to throw their support to a “centrist candidate “who they believe would be capable of sustaining the country’s recovery from a crippling political and economic crisis.
Huck is 46 years old from Sao Paulo and studied law. Investors see him as a “dream candidate” with the kind of Main Street appeal that most other centrist candidates do not quite possess. It helps that Huck is a TV variety-show host. Aside from his media experience, Huck shares another common denominator with Trump. Huck also boasts of a business experience. Huck founded his own investment firm for startups, counseled by the legendary Rio de Janeiro investor Arminio Fraga.
Renato Nobile, CEO of Bullmark Financial Group also approves of Huck. He says: “He’d have a very strong chance of winning. He ticks off many of the right boxes, both for the financial market and for the people fed up with traditional politics.”
Huck’s TV show titled “Huck’s Big Cauldron” has been a Saturday afternoon viewing habit for Brazilians for almost two decades. It features music, competitions, celebrities and the hard-luck stories of ordinary Brazilians who even at times cry for the mere chance to appear on the show. Trim and athletic Huck with his sort of impish grin plays to the hilt the role of a ringleader through all the laughing and crying with guests, endearing him more to his audience.
His possible entry to the presidential race is being welcomed by Brazilians given the desperation of many to find a savior to put the nation back on track after years of corruption scandals and recession.
The last three years have been tough for Brazil politics, with their leading entrepreneurs and politicians being thrown in jail as massive schemes of kick-backs that financed election campaign and luxurious consumption were unearthed.
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in 2016, but her replacement Michel Temer has been hounded by corruption charges as well since assuming office. Then there’s the brutal recession hounding Brazil that fueled millions of job losses. The people are unhappy, and a poll shows the citizens’ satisfaction with democracy is the lowest in the region.
While Huck may have the mass appeal, analysts are saying if he is serious about his presidential run, he would still need the support of the big Brazilian parties. The field now is crowded with Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles and lower house chief Rodrigo Maia vying with San Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin to be the candidate of the center.
Some say if Huck winds up splitting the centrist vote, it could pave the way for the win of a more radical candidate, like ex-military officer Jair Bolsonaro, or even embattled former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Thing is, all these talks remain premature until Huck declares his intention to run categorically. For now, he’s playing coy. Shortly after his much-talked TV guesting, he said in a Facebook post that he’s “not a candidate for anything.”
Straightforward or coy about his plans, the thing is Huck is generating media frenzy and people’s interest. Even his social media following is swelling- it now has 43.4 million people following, easily five times more than any of the other candidates.