Meet the Last Lebanese Mayor of the Most Populous City in Brazil

São Paulo is a municipality in the Southeast Region of Brazil. The metropolis is an alpha global city, and the most populous city in Brazil, the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, besides being the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world, and the largest city south of the Tropic of Capricorn.


The municipality is also the world’s 12th largest city by population. The city is the capital of the surrounding state of São Paulo, the most populous and wealthiest state in Brazil. It exerts strong international influences in commerce, finance, arts, and entertainment.

And this incredible city had a Lebanese Mayor between 2013 and 2017. Fernando Haddad was born in São Paulo, the second of three children of salesman Khalil Haddad, a Lebanese who arrived in Brazil in 1948 from Ain Aata and married Norma Teresa Ghousain, the daughter of immigrants from Lebanon.

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Haddad has two sisters, Priscila and Lúcia. His grandfather Khoury Habib Haddad, whom he never got to meet, was a priest for the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch in Lebanon and Brazil.

Haddad attended high school at Colégio Bandeirantes and entered the Law School of the University of São Paulo in 1981 as an undergraduate. He holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of São Paulo. He began his career as an investment analyst at Unibanco, but has devoted much of his career to public service.

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He has served as a consultant for the Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas, an economics research institute based at the School of Economics, Business and Accounting of the University of São Paulo, and also as Chief of staff to the Finance and Economic Development Secretary of the municipality of São Paulo, and a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management.

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He is also a Professor in the Political Science Department of the University of São Paulo. He was Minister of Education from 2005 to 2012 in the cabinets of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.


During the 2012 municipal elections, Haddad was a candidate for Mayor of São Paulo. After successfully advancing to the second round, he won with 55.57% of the vote.

As Mayor, Haddad implemented an expansion of the city’s network of bike lanes, promising to extend it from 64.7 km to 400 km in 2016. However, the project sparked polarized reactions by residents of São Paulo.

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In July 2016, Haddad had the approval of only 14% of city residents, the lowest for the end of a mayoral term. In 2016, he lost his bid for re-election to Brazilian Social Democracy Party candidate João Doria, receiving only 17% of the vote. He left office on 1 January 2017.

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Haddad was announced as Lula da Silva’s running mate in the 2018 presidential election in August 2018. However, the Superior Electoral Court ruled that the former president is ineligible for candidacy due to his being disqualified under the Clean Slate law, which bans people convicted on appeal from running for public office.


On 11 September 2018, Haddad was named by the Workers’ Party as Lula’s replacement, with Communist Party legislator Manuela d’Ávila taking Haddad’s place as the vice-presidential candidate.

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