João Doria was elected as mayor of Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, in 2017 although he has been tipped as a possible contender for president.
Doria has tapped into the populist vote in Brazil although when asked if he would run for leader later this year, when a general election will be held in October 2018, he said he was focused on his current job.
“I was elected to be mayor of the largest city of Brazil and Latin America (Sao Paolo) so I’m doing my job,” Doria told CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Last September, Doria intimated that he could leave the centrist party he is affiliated with — the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) — to run for president.
Asked by CNBC if he wanted to be president, Doria said “that there was time ahead” presumably to decide whether to run for the highest office, currently held by Michel Temer.
“We still have time ahead to decide that but at this time my focus is the city,” he said. “I think that Brazil has a great future and I prefer to work for my country and not for myself,” he added.
The media has drawn comparisons between Doria and President Donald Trump. Doria is a self-made millionaire, businessman and has hosted the Brazilian version of “The Apprentice”. He has also leaned toward populist politics and, again like Trump, he is not shy of an argument or two on Twitter with his critics.
However, when asked if he was Brazil’s answer to Trump, Doria — who has advocated globalism and free trade rather than a brand of protectionism — gave an emphatic “no”.
“I’m different from Mr Trump. The thing we have in common is that I’ve done two years of hosting the same reality show (“The Apprentice”) and that’s all. We have big differences in mind, in position. I respect him of course but my position is a little different.”
“I’m a globalist and I strongly defend this position. It’s the best position for our country to develop Brazil, to generate new employments and this is the future of Brazil and you cannot go in any other except to be a global country.”
Meet Sao Paulo's mayor — and possibly Brazil's next president