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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Ciro Gomes: Mixed messages
Gomes on the campaign trail with his famous girlfriend
Patricia Pillar and Ciro Gomes make an attractive double act
Ciro Gomes, the candidate of the centre-left Labour Front, is a former political prodigy with a successful record in office and a famous girlfriend.

But the campaign is making him almost better known for his short fuse and eclectic mix of allies.

Mr Gomes comes from a long line of politicians and became governor of the north eastern state of Ceara in 1990, aged just 32.

His four years in the post won plaudits from Unicef and the Economist magazine as his innovative policies cut infant mortality by a third, and attracted investment to the poverty-stricken state.

If there are 20 Brazilians with the qualities to be president, I'm one of them

Ciro Gomes

Famously the determined Mr Gomes built a 115 km (71 mile) canal in only 90 days to avert a water supply crisis in Ceara's capital, Fortaleza.

But for many Brazilians, Mr Gomes's most impressive achievement is his wooing of soap opera star Patricia Pillar.

Her popularity and the courage she is showing in her current fight against cancer, have greatly enhanced his election chances.


Mr Gomes was fast tracked to the post of finance minister in 1994 at a crucial time during an economic stabilisation programme known as the Real Plan.

He successfully curbed a brief surge in inflation, paving the way for the plan's architect, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, to win that autumn's election.

But after Mr Cardoso's victory, the ambitious Mr Gomes was sidelined and fell out with the government - including his election rival, Jose Serra.

Mr Gomes shifted his views to the left, joined the ex-communist People's Socialist Party and began to present himself as a sharp critic of the "ruinous" economic policy he himself had put in place.

Gomes was a political prodigy
Mr Gomes's quick temper is legendary

Mr Gomes' manifesto seems to continue this approach by pledging to introduce a new economic model and focusing on job creation, growth and ending privatisations.

But analysts see contradictions in his candidacy.

On paper, his policies are clearly left of centre, but his record in office is more conservative.

And despite the support of two other historically left-wing parties, he is also backed by the powerful traditional north-eastern politicians of the Liberal Front Party (PFL).

Temper, temper

However the biggest question mark hanging over Mr Gomes is his temperament.

In his short career he has dismissed a radio listener as a "dunce", business leaders as "terrorists" and shoppers as "suckers".

In a country where building political alliances is crucial, Mr Gomes's talent for making enemies works heavily against him.

Over the summer, Mr Gomes shot to second place in the polls thanks to a spurt of television advertising.

But since then, his opponents have ruthlessly exploited the shortcomings they see in his candidacy.

The charge of "emotional instability" seems to be sticking and Mr Gomes is now struggling to remain in the presidency battle.

This profile is from BBC Monitoring, which is based in Caversham in southern England and selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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