Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will join the centrist Liberal Party (Partido Liberal)ahead of next year's presidential elections, according to a party statement released on Wednesday.
Bolsonaro had left his right-wing Social Liberal Party in 2019, leaving him without an official political affiliation. Bolsonaro is required to join a party if he wants to run for reelection, with independent candidates legally not allowed on the ballot.
The far-right Brazilian leader is expected to sign his Liberal Party membership papers in Brasilia on November 22.
The Liberal Party is a member of an establishmentcoalition of parties called "centrao." These parties have helped Bolsonaro pass legislation while in office and protected him from impeachment.
Joining the Liberal Party signifies a shift in political strategy by Bolsonaro, who railed against the establishment during his presidential campaign in 2018.
Bolsonaro previously attempted to start his own party in 2019, Alliance for Brazil, but itfailed to garner the necessary signatures for registration.
Meanwhile, former judge Sergio Moro also joined apolitical party on Wednesday, signaling he will likely launch a bid for the presidency. Moro, who oversaw the country's "Operation Car Wash" corruption probe, has become a member of thecenter-right Podemos Party.
Moro said he would run on a presidential platform of fighting corruption and eradicating poverty in the developing South American nation.
Moro becameBolsonaro's justice minister in 2019, but later had a falling out with the president and left the position the following year.
During his time at the helm of "Operation Car Wash," Moro charged former President Luiz Inacio Lula daSilva, or Lula, with corruption in 2017, sending the left-wing figure to prison in 2018. Lula was later released, with the Supreme Federal Court finding Moro to be biased in overseeing the corruption trial.
Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, is expected to run against Bolsonaro in the 2022 election. Lula has slammed Bolsonaro over his coronavirus and economicpolicies and labeled the current president a "psychopath."
Recent polls have suggested that Lula would handily defeat Bolsonaro in a presidential matchup, with Morotrailing behind both of them.Bolsonaro has stoked fears of a rigged election, suggesting he may not step down peacefully if he loses the presidency next year.
wd/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)
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