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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 10:01 GMT
Brazil opposition picks candidate
Sao Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckmin, right, celebrates with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Ex-President Cardoso (left) supports Mr Alckmin's candidacy
Brazil's main opposition party has announced its candidate for the presidential elections in October.

The Brazilian Social Democratic Party named Sao Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckmin as its front-runner.

Mr Alckmin, 53, is likely to face left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is widely expected to run for a second term.

Correspondents say he is popular with the financial community in Sao Paulo, but little known in the rest of Brazil.

Mr Alckmin - nicknamed "Chuchu" - was one of the founders of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, alongside former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Brazil cannot stand the wave of corruption that has laid waste to our country
Geraldo Alckmin

He has been governor of Brazil's most populous and wealthiest state since 2001.

He says he endorses the austere fiscal and monetary policies introduced by Mr Cardoso, who served from 1995 to 2002, and maintained by the current government.

Mr Cardoso was at Mr Alckmin's side when his candidacy was unveiled.

"Brazil cannot stand the wave of corruption that has laid waste to our country, a nation without promise and poor growth," the front-runner said.

However, opinion polls suggest he will have a difficult fight against the charismatic President Lula, even though the current government had been dogged by a corruption scandal.

The announcement of Mr Alckmin's candidacy came after Sao Paulo Mayor Jose Serra, who lost to Lula in the 2002 presidential election, withdrew his bid.

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