Brazil’s Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles has hired social media experts to boost his image ahead of the 2018 election, the Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Rio do Janeiro media have anticipated, the sign yet that the former banker is seriously eyeing a run for president.
Meirelles hired analysts linked to the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) think tank to study his social media presence on a daily basis and build a communication plan. Apparently they have been working for Meirelles for more than three months.
The finance minister’s potential candidacy adds to political uncertainty ahead of a presidential election marked by a strong anti-establishment climate and a lack of clear favorites.
Meirelles, praised by investors for leading a market-friendly agenda of economic reforms, would have to leave his post by April, six months before the election, and could face a wide field of competitive candidates in a first-round vote.
One of the analysts hired by Meirelles works alongside the ministry’s official communication team in Brasilia, although the FGV team has not received any public funds for supporting his potential candidacy.
The team includes Thomas Traumann, a former spokesman for impeached President Dilma Rousseff. He confirmed to Reuters that he had consulted for Meirelles under private contract since 2015, but he did not work for the Finance Ministry.
The Finance Ministry said FGV has offered consultancy on social media to the ministry as part of a 40-year-long initiative of institutional support, without any connection to the 2018 campaign.
Congressmen from Meimrelles Social Democratic Party (PSD) last month heard from Meirelles that he felt honored to have his name floated as a potential candidate. Other potential candidates from within President Michel Temer’s fragmented coalition include the governor of Sao Paulo state, Geraldo Alckmin, and Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria.