By Lisandra Paraguassu
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Michel Temer will give up plans to run for reelection and will instead support former Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles as presidential candidate for the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) party, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.
His decision is expected to be announced at a party event on Tuesday, according to the senior government official, who spoke anonymously because the news has not yet been made public.
Temer and Meirelles have been polling in the low single digits ahead of the October election.
With his popularity at rock bottom, Temer had hinted in recent days that he might throw in the towel.
Over the weekend, he said Brazil’s centrist parties needed to join behind one candidate if they were to win the presidential election and continue his pro-business policies and balance the federal budget.
Pressure had mounted on Temer to hand the mantle to Meirelles within the ruling MDB party as its leaders came to terms with his dismal chances of reelection and as key allies began to launch their own candidates.
With less than five months until the Oct. 7 vote, candidates are still working to build party coalitions and win the attention of voters disenchanted with Brazil’s graft-tainted political class. Investors have been on edge amid uncertainty about the wide-open race and the fate of Temer’s fiscal reforms.
Temer last week touted his achievements in reviving Latin America’s largest economy, reducing inflation and turning around state-run companies in the two years since he took over from the impeached leftist President Dilma Rousseff.
Still, his approval rating remained stuck at 4 percent in the latest MDA poll that showed that 71 percent of Brazilians considered his government bad or terrible, turned off by a string of corruption scandals and high unemployment.
His rejection rate was even higher, with 88 percent of those surveyed saying they would never vote for him.
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Alison Williams and Bernadette Baum)