03/12/2012 17:37:00

Brazil Opposition PSDB Leaders Back Neves For 2014 Presidential Run

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BRASILIA--There is a broad consensus within the leadership of Brazil's opposition Social Democracy Party, or PSDB, that the party should nominate Minas Gerais Senator Aecio Neves to challenge President Dilma Rousseff in the country's 2014 presidential elections.

Speaking at meeting of PSDB mayors from around the country, top party officials said Monday that although other candidates could be presented, a large majority in the party were ready to support Mr. Neves.

"There's a preference and consensus around Aecio Neves that he is our candidate for president," said PSDB Party President Sergio Guerra.

Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who governed Brazil between 1995 and 2002, also gave enthusiastic backing for the launch of Mr. Neves candidacy at an opportune moment.

"He should start now exercising his role more intensely, not just as a candidate, but as a leader of the party," said Mr. Cardoso.

Mr. Cardoso said he believed it was possible for the party to defeat Ms. Rousseff despite her high popularity.

"Popularity in opinion polls is one thing, but elections are another," he said recalling that he defeated Rousseff's predecessor, the highly popular Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva twice in presidential elections.

Mr. Neves, also present at the event, declined to announced his candidacy immediately, saying it isn't yet the "right moment," but offered to assume a "leadership role" in the party in 2013 prior to the PSDB nominee launching his or her candidacy at the beginning of 2014.

"I'm ready to travel around Brazil to present the PSDB's ideas," he said.

The senator said voters had grown tired of inefficient government policies that produced low economic growth and opportunities and that his party had "a responsibility to present and clear alternative at the right moment."

During the event, held for more than 500 recently-elected mayors, top party officials urged that the party members increase dialogue with voters in the coming year to highlight its interest in returning the country to a reform agenda and economic policies that will benefit the population.

"Winning the election in 2014 will depend on our ability to raise questions that are in agreement with the voters' sentiments," Mr. Cardoso said.

Mr. Neves formerly served as the speaker of the country's lower house and as governor of Minas Gerais state.

The PSDB unsuccessfully ran former Sao Paulo governor Jose Serra against Rousseff of the Workers' Party in presidential elections in 2010.

Write to Gerald Jeffris at gerald.jeffris@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 03, 2012 12:37 ET (17:37 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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