Allied with Jair Bolsonaro in Congress, the Centrão split for the 2022 dispute and an important wing of the bloc assesses that the chance of the president winning a second term is increasingly distant. In private conversations, the group of Progressistas, party of the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (AL), and of the minister of the Civil House, Ciro Nogueira, has outlined this scenario and bets that the election for the Palácio do Planalto can even be decided in the first round, if the president does not radically change behavior and the population does not feel an economic improvement in their pockets.
The diagnosis marks a significant change in the assessment of politicians close to the Planalto. Until then, the hunch was that Bolsonaro would be competitive again next year with economic growth and a new Bolsa Família, now called Auxílio Brasil. Supporters of the president also argued that with everyone vaccinated, no one would remember the disaster in managing the Covid-19 pandemic anymore. What has changed? With inflation, interest and unemployment on the rise, the population feels the effects of the economic deterioration and the increase in the price of food, cooking gas, electricity and gasoline. This is not a situation seen as a passing one and, moreover, it is aggravated by a new wave of the pandemic, water crisis and the authoritarian robberies of Bolsonaro, which invests in threats to democracy and institutional conflicts.
When taking an inventory of problems, Kassab cited “the president’s conduct in the pandemic, the things that are being pointed out in Covid’s CPI, inflation reaching the price of beans and the vaccination that took to start.”
The PSD has among its staff the minister of Communications, Fábio Faria, who is leaving the party because of the differences between the acronym commanded by Kassab and the government. Faria goes to Progressistas and Kassab makes articulations to affiliate the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG), to the PSD. The idea is to launch him into Bolsonaro’s chair.
President of Solidarity, deputy Paulo Pereira da Silva, Paulinho da Força (SP), also sees the possibility of Bolsonaro losing in the first round. “If Lula (former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) knows how to work, expand, maintain the unity of the left – which is difficult because of Ciro (Gomes, PDT candidate) – and walk towards the center, he has a great chance of winning the election in the first round”, said the deputy. In the 2018 election, Solidarity was part of the Centrão and supported Geraldo Alckmin’s (PSDB) campaign, but the party has long since detached itself from the group.
Even on the benches of subtitles with seats on the Esplanade of Ministries, like the Progressives and the PL, there are deputies who admit many obstacles in the Bolsonaro campaign for 2022.
President of the PL in Rio, deputy Altineu Cortês, for example, said he supported the president’s reelection, but said that the government urgently needed to make important changes in the economic field. Card-carrying scholarship holder, Cortês argued that Economy Minister Paulo Guedes hinders the government for not having “social sensitivity” and should leave office.
“We need a minister who deals with fiscal responsibility, but who is socially sensitive. Today, unfortunately, Minister Paulo Guedes has this social sensitivity in the sole of his foot”, he criticized.
The head of the economic team is currently struggling with the political articulation of Planalto on the amount to be paid for the new version of Bolsa Família.
“Waist Game”. Cortes stressed that he has nothing personal against the minister, but said he considers that he makes the government politically unfeasible. The leader of the PL assessed that Guedes lacks “play of the waist” in projects to refinance company debts and financial aid to microenterprises.
In Progressistas there are already those who consider that it is not worth it to be with Bolsonaro. This is the case of deputy Eduardo da Fonte (PE), former leader of the party, linked to minister Ciro Nogueira and supporter of the pre-candidacy of former president Lula. In Bahia, a state headed by Rui Costa (PT), vice-governor João Leão (Progressistas) is another name that rejects an alliance with Bolsonaro.
Deputy Fausto Pinato (Progressistas-SP) stated that the only way for the head of the Executive to have electoral viability in 2022 is to contain authoritarian raptures. For Pinato, Bolsonaro needs to listen to the Chief of Staff and the presidents of the Chamber, Arthur Lira, and of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, in addition to stopping attacks on institutions.
“If (Bolsonaro) listens to Ciro Nogueira, Arthur Lira and Pacheco, he has a chance (of being reelected). Otherwise, everyone will use everyone else and, at the right moment, it will be a save yourself who can”, predicted the deputy, warning about the possible disbandment of the government.
The president has made constant attacks on the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). By questioning the credibility of the electoral system, Bolsonaro accuses, without evidence, part of the judiciary of colluding to elect Lula.
In a series of statements against the Supreme Court and the TSE, Bolsonaro has asserted that there will be no elections in 2022 without a change in the electronic ballot box to enable the printing of the vote. The proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) of the printed vote was rejected by a special committee of the Chamber and the plenary of the Chamber, but the president continues to defend the issue and has called for actions against the Supreme for the September 7 holiday.
The PEC of the printed vote was defeated with the help of a considerable part of deputies from the Centrão. Progressistas freed deputies to vote as they pleased. Thirteen were against the measure defended by Bolsonaro, 16 in favor and 11 were absent. The PL went further and guided the vote against the PEC, with the majority of deputies acting to overturn the text.
Deputy leader of the PL, deputy Zé Vitor (MG), admitted difficulties on the president’s horizon. “It’s not a good time for him,” he said. Even so, the congressman avoided saying how he assesses the chances of reelection. “We are far from the election. Anything can happen”, he deconverted. The deputy said he was against supporting Lula, but did not rule out guaranteeing an alternative candidate to the PT and Bolsonaro.
Flirt. The PL occupies the Secretariat of Government, headed by the licensed deputy Flávia Arruda (PL-DF). One wing of the party, however, flirts with Lula. The vice president of the Chamber, Marcelo Ramos (PL-AM), for example, met with the former president in April. Although he has not yet decided which campaign to embark on next year, Ramos has already ruled out support for Bolsonaro.
“The problem is high inflation, gasoline at R$7, energy rising, food rising, cooking gas at another R$100, double-digit interest rates in the long term, runaway inflation, unemployment and hunger. His situation is very difficult, there is no time to reverse this”, stated the vice-president of the Chamber.
A deputy, who was the leader of the PL and spoke to the reporter on condition of anonymity, said that today the majority of the bench supports the government, but it is not ruled out that the party’s president, Valdemar Costa Neto, will leave Bolsonaro in 2022.
An XP-Ipespe survey released last week shows the difficulties faced by the president. Lula got 40% of voting intentions in a first round simulation, Bolsonaro scored 24% and Ciro Gomes (PDT), 10%.
President of Progressistas, Deputy André Fufuca (MA), says in public that Bolsonaro can regain his popularity. “I believe the current scenario is changeable. The trend is for his popularity to rise again and he arrives with real conditions to run for re-election,” he said. Backstage, however, Fufuca talks to Lula.
Kassab says even the improvement in the economic picture will not be enough to help Bolsonaro. “Bolsa Família will increase X and Lula will say he will increase two X. I will believe in Lula”, said the president of the PSD.
Marcelo Ramos also ruled out that the economy could help Bolsonaro. “The president bet on an economic recovery that was not motivated by any government action. It was a recovery of someone who comes out of inertia”, he observed. “When the crisis is very big, in a post-crisis moment you always have a growth boom. But it creates so much confusion that everything indicates that even this growth boom will not be confirmed.”
(With information from the State Agency)
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