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José Serra

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José Serra

José Serra
Member of the Federal Senate
from São Paulo
Assumed office
1 February 2015
Preceded by Eduardo Suplicy
In office
1 February 1995 – 1 February 2003
Preceded by Mário Covas
Succeeded by Aloízio Mercadante
33rd Governor of São Paulo
In office
1 January 2007 – 2 April 2010
Lieutenant Alberto Goldman
Preceded by Cláudio Lembo
Succeeded by Alberto Goldman
59th Mayor of São Paulo
In office
1 January 2005 – 31 March 2006
Preceded by Marta Suplicy
Succeeded by Gilberto Kassab
Minister of Health
In office
31 March 1998 – 20 February 2002
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by Carlos Albuquerque
Succeeded by Barjas Negri
Minister of Planning and Budget
In office
1 January 1995 – 30 April 1996
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by Beni Veras
Succeeded by Antônio Kandir
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
from São Paulo
In office
1 February 1987 – 1 February 1995
Preceded by 47th Legislature
Succeeded by 50th Legislature
Personal details
Born (1942-03-19) March 19, 1942
São Paulo, Brazil
Political party Party of Brazilian Social Democracy
Spouse(s) Monica Allende (m.1967)
Children Veronica
Alma mater University of São Paulo
University of Chile
Cornell University
Religion Roman Catholicism

José Serra (Portuguese pronunciation: ; born March 19, 1942) is a Brazilian politician who served as a Congressman, Senator, Minister of Planning and Minister of Health, Mayor of São Paulo and Governor of São Paulo state.


  • Background 1
  • Political career 2
    • Mayor of São Paulo 2.1
  • Role in Brazilian politics today 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


José Serra was born in São Paulo's neighbourhood called Mooca[1] to Francesco Serra,[2] an Italian immigrant from Corigliano Calabro, Calabria,[3] and Serafina Chirico, a Brazilian born to Italian parents.[4] Serra comes from a lower middle class family. His father was semi-illiterate and worked as a fruit vendor in a market of São Paulo, but he was able to enrol his only child in college.[5][6] He was also a prominent meber of the socio-politicla movement Ação Popular which opposed the conservative political system which tghen existed. [7]

Serra interrupted his studies in engineering at age 22 and left the country in 1964, after the coup that established the military government era in Brazil. Serra had come to the attention of the authorities having served as President of the União Nacional dos Estudantes (UNE), (National Student Union) which opposed the conservative regime existing while he was a 4th year engineering student at the Polytechnic School at the University of São Paulo.

José Serra was in exile from 1964 to 1978 in Bolivia, France, Chile, and the United States. In Chile, Jose Serra did his masters in Economics and taught Economics at the University of Chile (Universidad de Chile). There he also married Monica Allende (1967), then a top ballerina at the National Ballet of Chile. They had two children, Veronica (1969) and Luciano (1973). In the United States José Serra was awarded a Masters and Ph. D. in Economics at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)[8] and later spent 2 years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

On returning to Brazil after the political amnesty in 1978, Serra lectured economics at the University of Campinas, did research for Cebrap, and wrote for the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

Political career

In 1982 he was appointed São Paulo's State Secretary for Economics and Planning under Franco Montoro's governorship, and became the most influential secretary of Montoro's Government. In 1986 and 1990 he was elected and reelected a Congressman. In 1994 he was elected Senator for the State of São Paulo with more than 6.5 million votes.

Event in which Serra was sworn in as Mayor of São Paulo.

His first bid for the mayorship of the City of São Paulo came in 1988 in an election won by PT's Luiza Erundina. He ran again in 1996, resigning his position as Minister of Planning in order to participate in the election for mayor, which was won by Celso Pitta. Pitta was the designated successor of mayor Paulo Maluf, who headed the right-wing populist Progressive Party PP. After having served again as a minister in the Federal Government, Serra ran for President on behalf of the PSDB party in 2002. He was beaten by four-time candidate and PT founder Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the 2nd round.

In all elections in which he was a candidate since 1988 Serra represented the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), which he helped found in 1988 alongside then former and future São Paulo State Governors Franco Montoro and Mario Covas and the future Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, out of a split arising in the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). PSDB can be seen as a coalition of democrats, liberals and social democrats and enjoys a centrist outlook in comparison to its rival, the leftist Workers' Party (PT) of current President Dilma Rousseff. Both parties enjoy large support in São Paulo state, but the state has been governed by PSDB since 1994.

Serra came to political prominence under Fernando Henrique Cardoso's presidency (1994–2002) when he was appointed as Minister of Planning, and later as Minister of Health. During Serra's tenure in the Health Ministry, the generic drug industry, which gave wider access to medicines to a poor population, and ANVISA, the Brazilian food and drug regulatory agency, were created. Also all form of tobacco advertising was banned, and cigarette packages were made to show pictures of diseases caused by smoking.

Mayor of São Paulo

Serra was elected mayor of São Paulo in 2004, defeating incumbent Marta Suplicy in the second round of elections. Serra created the Virada Cultural, a 24-hour-long cultural festival inspired by the French Nuit Blanche.[9] He also established the Bilhete Único system in the subway system of the city.

Serra was trying to be nominated as the PSDB candidate for president in the 2006 elections, but on March 14, 2006, he decided to run for governor of the state of São Paulo instead, and resigned his post as mayor of São Paulo, although he signed a document promising he would fulfill his four-year mandate.[10] Gilberto Kassab, the deputy mayor, took office and remained the mayor until 2012. Serra was elected and on January 1, 2007, he took office as the Governor of São Paulo State.

Role in Brazilian politics today

Serra was the presidential candidate of the incumbent PSDB party in 2002, when he lost the election to Lula. In 2004, he was elected Mayor of the city of São Paulo in a run-off with 55% of the votes after signing a public commitment to stay in office for the full term. Nevertheless, he resigned after 15 months to run for Governor of the State of São Paulo in 2006, and was elected in the first round with almost 60% of the votes.

Serra during the annual meeting of PSDB, in which he announced his pre-candidacy.

Serra announced another run for the Brazilian presidency as the PSDB candidate in the 2010 elections. He received support from his party, as well as the Socialist People's Party (PPS) and the Democrats (DEM). His primary opposition in the election was Workers' Party (PT) candidate, Dilma Rousseff.[11] Serra's candidacy received support from Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo[12] and British newspaper Financial Times.[13] In the first-round of voting, on October 3, 2010, an unexpectedly strong showing from Green Party (Brazil) candidate, Marina Silva, forced a second-round, run-off between Serra and Rousseff on October 31, 2010, which Rousseff won 56% to 44%.

On February 2012, Serra announced he would be running for Mayor of São Paulo, which, in case he wins, would result in his second non-consecutive term, though he left the first one before it ended.[14] But, in the second round of the 2012 Brazilian municipal elections, he was defeated by Fernando Haddad, Lula da Silva's candidate.[15]


  1. ^ Costa, Florência (2009-11-11). "Os Brasileiros do Ano 2004 - José Serra". IstoÉ. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  2. ^ Furtado, Bernardino; Friedlander, David (2002-10-21). "SERRA. O candidato enfrentou o funil da mobilidade social, a ditadura e o exílio antes de se tornar um dos principais políticos do Brasil". Época. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  3. ^ Veja São Paulo (2004-10-27). "Tenho mais medo de inveja do que de colesterol alto". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  4. ^ Folha Online (02/10/2006). "TRE-SP confirma vitória de Serra no 1º turno". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  5. ^ Serra agarra a sua chance
  6. ^,6993,EPT419866-2011,00.html
  7. ^ See
  8. ^ "Cornell Masters’ Thesis for José Serra?". Cornell University. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "Virada Cultural Paulista: diversão para todo o Estado" (in Portuguese). Portal of the Government of the State of São Paulo. Retrieved 9 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Faria, Thiago (22 October 2008). "‘Não votem em mim se eu sair candidato,’ diz Kassab sobre eleições 2010" (in Portuguese).  
  11. ^ "Jose Serra launches bid to be Brazil's next president".  
  12. ^ "Editorial: O mal a evitar" (in Portuguese).  
  13. ^ "Brazil's testy election race".  
  14. ^ "No Twitter, Serra anuncia que disputará candidatura à Prefeitura de SP".  
  15. ^ "Fernando Haddad wins Sao Paulo for Brazil Workers' Party".  

External links

  • São Paulo 2004 mayoral race pages
  • Profile on
Political offices
Preceded by
Marta Suplicy
Mayor of São Paulo
2005 - 2006
Succeeded by
Gilberto Kassab
Preceded by
Cláudio Lembo
Governor of São Paulo
2007 - 2010
Succeeded by
Alberto Goldman
Party political offices
Preceded by
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
PSDB Party presidential candidate
2002 (lost)
Succeeded by
Geraldo Alckmin
Preceded by
Geraldo Alckmin
PSDB Party presidential candidate
2010 (lost)
Succeeded by
Aécio Neves
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