Pressed to manifest himself after Jair Bolsonaro’s coup micaretas, on Tuesday (7), the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), did not show signs that he will analyze any of the 136 impeachment requests on which is sitting. Despite having said that it is time to end the bravado and that it is necessary to get back to work, in clear reference to the president, he stated that Brazilians have a meeting scheduled with the elections on October 3, 2022, implying that this must be the political outlet for the country.
The word impeachment returned to the political arena in Brasília more because of the desire of analysts and politicians than because of a change in the situation that would allow the president to be impeached. Attacks on institutions, despite being demeaning, have proved insufficient to lead deputies from the center to hand over the head of Jair Bolsonaro. The same cannot be said of the worsening socio-economic crisis.
In her speech, Lira complained about the price of gasoline, which reached R$7 in some places, and the price of cooking gas, a direct criticism of the (lack of) action of the president and his team. And warned of the crisis. And it is there, in this combo of inflation, unemployment, hunger and water and electricity crises, that lies the possibility of an inflection point for the president of the Chamber.
Lira controls amendments, but also the country’s legislative agenda
There are 136 impeachment requests that are in limbo, neither approved nor filed. Lira, who is guaranteed re-election, given the amount of resources he pours into the interior of Alagoas, doesn’t want to lose the center’s golden egg.
And it’s not just the tens of billions of reais in amendments. The possibility of imposing a legislative voting agenda that interests powerful lobby groups, from ruralists to construction companies, would not be the same if we were in democratic normality.
Under his baton, projects, such as the Land Grabbing Bill, easily passed through the Chamber, embedded like tortoises in Provisional Measures or through procedures without adequate time for debate. The new Labor Reform, which hindered even the fight against slave labor, was approved at the cash register and only did not see the light of day because the Senate rejected it.
Even joining the majority of the MDB, PSD, PSDB and defections in the PSL, DEM and PL to 130 opposition votes, the removal of the president remains somewhat distant due to the possibilities brought by a president on the scaffold.
The other “farm lion” that prevents the beginning of a process of impeachment of the President of the Republic, the Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras, was reappointed for another two years at the head of the PGR. He hopes to inherit André Mendonça’s nomination for the Supreme Court, despite not being “terribly evangelical”. Until then, keep protecting the godfather’s neck.
Remaining in office, if he were to demonstrate that he remembers the constitutional text and decide to criminally denounce Bolsonaro, the process would still need the consent of 342 deputies’ votes to be opened by the STF.
A solution via the Superior Electoral Court is also difficult to achieve – it would ultimately be political, not legal, and would take into account that Bolsonaro maintains the support of 24% of the population. If the crowds in São Paulo and Brasília were much smaller than the president had expected, they weren’t politically despicable either.
Lira sent messages to the president, but also to the STF
The president of the Chamber reinforced that the elections will take place with the use of electronic voting machines, in a clear criticism of Bolsonaro, who insists on the introduction of the printed vote. After presiding over the legislative session that rejected this demand, the deputy stated that the matter was closed and that the president would know how to respect it – something that, of course, did not happen.
Lira also gave the Supreme Court a nudge, stating that the punishment of deputies should be done by the Chamber itself. Daniel Silveira (PSL-RJ) was arrested after a decision by minister Alexandre de Moraes, which was later confirmed by parliament.
He criticized bravado in his address this Wednesday. Bolsonaro’s declaration that he will no longer obey Alexandre de Moraes’ decisions is probably the biggest one said in the Republic in these 33 months of mandate. If that happens, which in practice is a coup d’état, Lira will be pressured to file an impeachment process.
It is one thing, however, to open and another to get the 342 votes. If it were today, “firemen” would join the game to put hot rags and save that chicken – as happened with Michel Temer.
As absurd as this is, it will be difficult to hold Bolsonaro responsible for the attacks he has been making on institutions if he continues to slowly erode democracy. It is a very serious situation, but it does not awaken the bulk of the population and, therefore, does not generate the same impact on the government’s support base.
The same cannot be said if the lives of the poorest Brazilians and the middle class become hell.
Bolsonaro cannot resist the combo of blackout, inflation, high unemployment, hunger and lack of water
Jobs have been generated at a snail’s pace and, as a result, we still have 14.4 million unemployed. If we consider the total number of underutilized people, there are 32.2 million. Another 5.6 million are in dismay: they simply don’t look for a job because they know they won’t find it.
Inflation of the basic basket accumulates 22% in the last 12 months, according to Dieese. Gasoline and cooking gas do not stop rising, eroding the income of Brazilians which, according to the IBGE, has also been falling – there was a reduction of 6.6% in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.
The increase in the price of electricity, as a way to circumvent the crisis generated by the incompetence of the federal government (which ignored the effects of climate change on the flow of water in rivers and allowed plant reservoirs to reach their limit without taking action), also has been producing teeth grinding.
If the drought reduces the level of hydroelectric dams to the point of generating power blackouts and heavy water rationing, we will have the popular anger against Bolsonaro boiling over.
The dark and dry taps, added to double-digit inflation and still high unemployment, are more than enough elements to justify and intensify protests in the streets. Which will be even bigger if the Delta variant doesn’t create a third wave of covid-19 kills.
Between keeping his goose that lays the golden eggs and seeing his re-election in the spotlight, the center can make the calculations and realize that defenesting Jair in 2021 is more advantageous than running the risk of being contaminated to abandon ship only in April 2022, in beginning of the electoral calendar. Hence, Lira’s pronouncements may change content.
In the same way that the economy taking off in brigadier skies led to Lula’s reelection in 2006, despite the Mensalão scandal, and an economic crisis allowed the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, ten years later, for reasons much smaller than the harm caused by Bolsonaro , it will again be the deciding factor. As much as the anachronistic part of the business community is profiting from the Bolsonaro project of everyone for themselves and God above all, there is a limit.
Jair Messias must be praying for Saint Peter to send a flood. Every day.