By Marcela Ayres and Bernardo Caram
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s nomination to head the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is facing resistance among allies of leftist presidential frontrunner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who want him to have a formal say if he wins office this month.
The government of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has already begun seeking regional support for its nominee to run the development bank. Brazil aims to nominate former central bank chief Ilan Goldfajn in coming days, according to a source familiar with the government’s plans.
However, two close advisers to Lula said they believed the IDB leadership vote, scheduled for Nov. 20, should be postponed to next year so Brazil’s nomination reflects the will of a newly elected government.
Lula’s lead over Bolsonaro has narrowed in recent polls, but most still show him with an advantage of around 5 percentage points ahead of an Oct. 30 runoff vote.
The IDB is electing a new president after the ouster of Mauricio Claver-Carone in an ethics scandal. Each member country is entitled to a nomination, which is open to changes until Nov. 11, giving Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes discretion regardless of the result of Brazil’s presidential vote.
Celso Amorim, who was foreign minister for Lula’s 2003-2010 presidency, said in an interview this week that he personally thought the IDB vote should be delayed so Brazil can engage in the process with “a government legitimized by the ballot.”
Lula’s former Finance Minister Guido Mantega, who also emphasized that he was giving his personal view, suggested that if Lula wins the presidential race he could put pressure on the U.S. government to delay the IDB vote.
A third adviser to the former president, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that, instead of Goldfajn, Lula would be more inclined to tap an economist like Andre Lara Resende. Part of the team that designed the Real Plan to beat Brazil’s hyperinflation in the 1990s, Resende declared his vote for Lula in the first round of the presidential election.
Mantega agreed that Resende was a better option in his view.
“Ilan (Goldfajn) is a central banker, Lara Resende once headed the BNDES (Brazilian development bank),” Mantega said. “Managing a central bank is different from managing a development bank, one has a foot on the brake, the other has a foot on the accelerator.”
The U.S. Treasury said it will not nominate a candidate to succeed Claver-Carone, who was the first U.S. president of the bank in its 62-year history.
Mexico will nominate Alicia Barcena, the former head of the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last month.
(Reporting by Marcela Ayres and Bernardo Caram; Additional reporting by Flavia Marreiro; Editing by Brad Haynes and Diane Craft)