Temer backs ex-finance minister Meirelles for Brazil presidency

Brazilian President Michel Temer (R) has endorsed former finance minister Henrique Meirelles' presidential bid

Brazil's center-right ex-finance minister Henrique Meirelles won backing Tuesday for his presidential bid from current President Michel Temer, and promised to keep Latin America's biggest economy on a path of market-friendly reforms.

"We call on you to be president of Brazil," Temer said during an event held by the Brazilian Democratic Movement(MBD) party, to which both he and Meirelles belong.

Temer's endorsement of the former finance chief appears to definitively rule out an attempt to seek a new term himself. Pollsters say Temer is the most unpopular Brazilian president ever.

Meirelles, 72, authored austerity reforms under Temer, including a longterm cap on public spending, in a bid to put discipline into the country's floundering economy. He promised more of the same.

"We need four more years of building a new Brazil," he said.

The former Central Bank chairman has strong support in the investor community, which has taken a pounding since Brazil's dive into its worst recession in history and current, cautious return to growth.

However, his role in the economic reforms that followed Temer's takeover of the presidency in the wake of leftist president Dilma Rousseff's 2016 impeachment have made him deeply unpopular.

Like 77-year-old Temer, Meirelles has only single digit popularity ratings.

Meirelles said private surveys showed that once voters got to know his own record, the support would come.

"Many had never heard my name, but once they got to know my history, once they had access to the latest information, there was an impressive increase in voter intentions," he said.