President Jair Bolsonaro says it is fake news. The Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, swears that it is “small talk”. But the fact is that nothing is said about Brasilia: Centrão wants Bolsonaro to recreate some Ministries, including in the economic area, to accommodate allies and strengthen the government base.
The movement does not surprise anyone. The Centrão is formed by parties whose vocation is governism, whatever the ideological and programmatic orientation of the shift government. The only interest of these associations is to have access to funds and appointments that guarantee them power, resources and electoral strength. In return, they vote with the Planalto Palace – the old “take it there”.
It does not take a great deal of memory to remember that Bolsonaro made his entire electoral campaign promising to reduce the number of Ministries to a maximum of 15 and to choose ministers according to technical criteria, without favoring this or that allied party. In fact, Bolsonaro had partially fulfilled this promise: if the number of Ministries is 23, far from the 15 announced, the filling of vacancies did not follow the physiological model to which the country has become accustomed.
But nothing like day after day – with the many vicissitudes of power between them. After feeling the threat, real or not, of being prematurely deprived of the Presidency and of having Justice at his heels and that of his children, he gave his government and his behavior a wooden horse.
He exchanged daily bravado against other Powers and against democracy for silence. At the same time, he gradually got rid of the amateur amateurs and approached professional operators. The first indication of this had already been revealed in June, when Bolsonaro recreated the Ministry of Communications to hand him over to a nominee by Centrão. It was the beginning of the end of the booming Bolsonaro who won the election – and who promised to bury the old policy – and his conversion, discreet but irresistible, to the opportunistic retail that he, after all, has known for decades.
The “new” Bolsonaro of “new”, therefore, has nothing. In the president’s eagerness to remain in power and to protect himself from justice, there is no sacred cow that cannot be sacrificed – former Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro says so.
Thus, it will not be surprising if, according to the need, Bolsonaro’s “lean” and “technical” Ministry at some point in the future reaches Dilma Rousseff’s unbelievable 39 portfolios – which created them in the exact proportion of his rampant political weakening. In desperation to remain in power, Dilma and PT’s operators divided practically the entire government – former President Lula da Silva even transformed a hotel room in Brasília into an office to negotiate positions with politicians and parties just days from the vote impeachment. As you know, in vain.
The fact is that the Centrão’s scent for troubled presidents remains sharp. And the bet, this time, is high: it is said that the target of these parties is now the harvest of Minister Paulo Guedes. They want the recreation of the Ministries of Industry and Commerce and of Labor and Welfare, which had been absorbed by the “super ministry” of the Economy.
The progress of the Centrão on the Economy, if consummated, will conclude the passage of the “super-minister” Paulo Guedes, reduced more and more to the category of mere consultant of the president for economic matters. All of this at a time when the president is being pressured by the terrible circumstances – the covid-19 pandemic and the loss of income of millions of Brazilians – to make decisions that, if poorly designed, can threaten the already fragile state of national accounts. .
In practice, economic policy is in serious danger of becoming an instrument of Centrão’s populism and of his new best friend, President Bolsonaro, whose vows of fiscal responsibility are, at best, doubtful. This outcome may be great for the immediate electoral claims of all of them, but it will undoubtedly be terrible for the country.