The ministerial mini-reform that resulted in Senator Ciro Nogueira (PP-PI) moving to the command of the Civil House, on Wednesday (28), strengthens the presence of the center in the Bolsonaro government. A majority in the National Congress, the group, which brings together parties of the liberal right, now has three ministries under the president’s battered administration.
The center’s troops in the first level of the administration also include ministers Fábio Faria (PSD-RN) and Flávia Arruda (PL-DF), respectively from Communications and from the Secretary of Government.
In the assessment of Professor Márcio Coimbra, coordinator of the postgraduate program in Institutional and Governmental Relations at Faculdade Presbiteriana Mackenzie Brasília, the change modifies the alliance of forces in the administration.
He points out that the PP, the party currently chaired nationally by Ciro Nogueira, already controls the Chamber of Deputies, which today has Arthur Lira (PP-AL) in charge. Meanwhile, the PL continues to control the Secretariat of Government.
Together with the Casa Civil, the folder assists the head of the Executive in the political articulation of the administration, interacting with parliamentarians, states and municipalities. With this, the two acronyms now lead both sides of the political game, in the Executive-Legislative flow.
“He handed over the rings to keep his fingers,” says Coimbra, referring to the president’s move, aimed at governability.
“Bolsonaro handed over the management of the government to them, and this management, together with the presidency of the Chamber, is what ends up governing the country. This leaves the president in a comfortable situation when [ao risco de] suffer an impeachment, but he lost power.”
Both the PP and the PL are part of the so-called “central” block. Looking at the profile of the group, Leonardo Avritzer, a professor at the Department of Political Science at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), points out that the segment has dominated the federal Legislature more or less since the last two decades.
The field, whose number of members and parties is relatively variable, has a heterogeneous profile.
The bloc has been strengthened in recent times as a result of the political fragmentation that today marks the map of forces in Congress – in 2018, for example, senators of 21 members and deputies of 30 were elected in the country, which makes a president of the Republic needs to expand efforts to compose a majority.
“Indeed, they dominate Congress, but the center is not a loyal political group. This is Jair Bolsonaro’s problem”, emphasizes Avritzer.
According to the newspaper’s backstage calculation Folha de São Paulo, the negotiations that took Nogueira to the Civil House involved a negotiation between the senator and the president of the Republic so that the new minister would have autonomy to act in the political seams with Congress.
The main arena of the negotiation would be the Senate, where the stage of Covid’s Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) helps to undermine the government.
Also according to the vehicle, the head of the Executive would have agreed to give freedom of action to the Pepista, who will now act directly, for example, in negotiations involving the release of amendments and positions in the Executive in exchange for support for the management.
“He [Bolsonaro] it faces a double problem: it loses control of the government’s distribution of resources – because that will remain with the Civil House and the center – and, second, it now has to adapt its management to the center”, analyzes the professor at UFMG.
With the president’s troops more calibrated, the new political design also contributes to reducing the legislative chances of an impeachment, since the endorsement of a process of this nature depends on Lira.
“Now, when Bolsonaro has a conflict with Ciro Nogueira, impeachment is at his door because Nogueira has a very close relationship with Lira and the presidency of the Chamber”, highlights Avritzer.
For Marcio Coimbra, the chances of an impediment, previously foreseen as remote due to the lack of a majority in the Chamber, would now be buried with the arrival of the center’s leader at the Civil House.
The professor analyzes that an impeachment at this time could, from a political mathematics point of view, not be strategic even for the opposition.
The segment, in alliance with popular movements, is currently investing in constant street protests across the country to wear down Bolsonaro and Arthur Lira, who have the guarantee to make an impeachment request.
Coimbra considers that the PT – the biggest opposition party – is more interested in facing the weakened current president next year, with Lula as the candidate and Bolsonaro as the antagonist, “than effectively taking Bolsonaro out of the game and mixing up the electoral scenario”.
“Lula’s victory is much clearer when the current president is in the game,” he emphasizes, mentioning recent opinion polls.
As well as considering this scenario more advantageous for the PT, Coimbra points out that this interest is also fueled by the central parties. According to him, both for the parties that make up the bloc and for the opposition “a weak Bolsonaro is worth more than a strong Mourão”.
“A president weakened in office is more susceptible to the interests of these two groups than a vice president who enters as a new force – without vices, without risks, without a negative agenda”, explains Coimbra.
The political figure of the president is facing dehydration caused by the poor management of the pandemic, a theme in relation to which Brazil gained world prominence in 2020 due to the lack of control of the sanitary crisis.
The new coronavirus accumulates today more than 551,000 deaths in the country, where the president also duels with the damage caused to his image by the CPI of Covid, which investigates management actions and omissions.
At the same time, Bolsonaro still has other problems, such as the corruption scandals. The ball of the time is the Covaxin Case, which investigates suspected irregularities pointed out by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) in the acquisition of the vaccine of the same name.
The sum of this soup with the eventual stay of the president in office tends to make him an easier prey for opponents in 2022, given the drop in popularity of the far-right leader.
Coimbra points out that closer ties between the chief executive and the central group does not necessarily strengthen Bolsonaro towards next year’s race. The topic is currently hot on the news, given its proximity.
“The strengthening of Bolsonaro today is for him not to fall. This does not mean that the centrão will embark on his candidacy in 2022, because, for them, it doesn’t matter so much who wins the elections. The center will be the base of the next government anyway”, projects the professor, mentioning the well-known physiological behavior of the group.
Nogueira, for example, helped compose the base of all the presidents who have passed through the country since 1995, when the present senator from Pepista served as federal deputy for the extinct PFL. He supported the administrations of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002), Lula (2003-2010), Dilma (2011-2016) and Michel Temer (2016-2018).
“What we see clearly is that these parties are much more interested in doing [no pleito] a number of deputies than in supporting some name in the majority election because, doing [um leque de] deputies, they manage to become important for any government that arrives at the Planalto Palace”, analyzes Coimbra.
For analyst Leonardo Barreto, PhD in Political Science from the University of Brasília (UnB), the path that will take Bolsonaro to 2022 still needs to be paved and depends on a series of variables in the political chessboard.
He emphasizes that the current change is about a “first magnitude movement” and that the mini-ministerial reform places Brazil within the logic of a “classical coalition presidentialism”, in which the parties officially assume certain spaces.
If, on the one hand, the composition helps to give greater stability to the management, on the other, it still leaves questions about what could be to come.
“This creates a setting for the future. Will the PP, for example, become official as a right-wing party in the government? Because in fact he is already a party, but it remains to be seen if he will be right. This would happen, for example, with Bolsonaro’s affiliation to the party, which has not yet been defined”, he exemplifies.
Edition: Leandro Melito