The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who for three decades was a mediocre deputy , achieved a notable political triumph this Monday with the election of two allies at the head of the two Houses of Congress. Both in the first round.
To get it, he has paid dearly. He has thrown himself into the arms of the old politics that he denounced so much to come to power and, with money from the public coffers, he has distributed 3,000 million reais (460 million euros) to almost 300 parliamentarians to carry out works in their districts in exchange of the precious votes, according to the newspaper Estadão .
In addition , he promises to put one of them in charge of ministries. The far-rightist aspires to short-circuit impeachment requests (impeachment) and pass his more ultra-conservative agenda.
As president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, a 51-year-old agricultural businessman, will have the power to admit or not to process the impeachment petitions that accumulate against Bolsonaro and decide which parliamentary projects he gives priority to.
It is expected that he is more in tune with the president than his predecessor, Rodrigo Maia, who has been crucial along with the Supreme Court to neutralize the authoritarian impulses of the national populist in the first half of his term.
Lira, who held a party at his home in Brasilia last night with 300 guests, most of them without masks, will head the Lower House for two years after having defeated (302 to 145) the candidate of a broad front that included the most center-right classic to the left of the Workers’ Party (PT), but that broke even before the vote on Monday at the stroke of midnight. The triumph of Bolsonaro’s ally in the Senate was also clear. Rodrigo Pacheco, 44, won by 57-21.
Lira is the main leader of what is known in Brazil as the centrão , the great center, a myriad of parties of territorial chiefs without ideology who shamelessly offer their parliamentary support to the highest bidder in exchange for positions with large budgets. Originally from the State of Alagoas and the son of a senator, this is Lira’s third term as a deputy.
As he is being investigated for corruption in the Lava Jato case , he cannot, however, assume the leadership of the State in the event of a hypothetical absence of Bolsonaro and his vice president, General Hamilton Mourão.
With 225,000 deaths and nine million cases of coronavirus, Brazil is the country that manages the pandemic worst among the 98 analyzed by the Lowy Institute of Australia .
Although the popularity of the Brazilian president has suffered due to covid-19 and problems in vaccination, he maintains the firm support of his most ultras followers, a third of the electorate. With no popular clamor to impeach him and with an opposition failing to forge a unified front, Bolsonaro is moving forward with his sights set on a second term.
One of the first issues on the parliamentary table will be whether to approve new economic aid to families to alleviate the impact of the pandemic without aggravating the fiscal crisis or breaking the spending ceiling. The end of coronavirus pay means extreme poverty has exploded after a short-lived and historic decline .
13% of Brazilians (27 million people) go back to living on less than 1.25 euros a day. Bolsonaro is expected to make the rules for buying weapons even more flexible (one million Brazilians already own at least one) and promote the so-called customs agenda in tune with his evangelical base.more conservative.
It is also expected that he will appoint a third Supreme Court judge. His economic reform agenda has been stalled in Congress for months and he has not privatized a single company, for now. Bolsonaro seeks achievements with which to seek a second term.
The retired military man won the presidential elections in 2018, riding deep indignation against corrupt politicians , presenting himself as an anti-system and spouting old politics. His initial refusal to submit to deep-rooted exchanges of favors to achieve a parliamentary majority has made it difficult for him to carry out some of his projects.
But he changed his mind last year, with the first requests for impeachment , the opening of an investigation in the Supreme Court for interference in the police and the investigations for corruption and dissemination of false news against two of his children.
Then the procession of the centrão began,that he recovers a vital position from which he has already neutralized the corruption investigations against Michel Temer, who succeeded the dismissed Dilma Rousseff of the PT as president.
The parties in the center of those caciques without ideology are now regaining prominence. If Bolsonaro’s popularity continued to decline, the price they would charge to sustain him would rise and, if he plummeted to lows, they might even drop him.
Although in 2019, Lira tweeted that “the Government must put aside the agenda of customs and controversies” to focus on the real needs of Brazil, his last messages on Twitter before being elected were dedicated to Psalm 23. And he ended with a “May God enlighten us all.”