Bolsonaro’s campaign plans to intensify the agenda on the economy

The pardon of federal deputy Daniel Silveira (PTB-RJ) and the defense of freedom of expression had a positive impact on President Jair Bolsonaro’s (PL) political and electoral agendas. Now, the pre-campaign’s desire is to “turn the page” and place more emphasis on the economic and social agendas.

Allies who advocate greater attention to economic and social agendas in Bolsonaro’s speeches and agendas across the country recognize that aspects of the so-called “ideological agenda” must be defended and will remain, but with less focus. The analysis made by allies of the ruling base — which include the Centrão chiefs — is that the government has already won the possible votes with the defense of the pardon. Silveira’s allies also understand that the agenda tends to lose strength.

Since last week, Bolsonaro’s electoral coordinators and his closest allies have started to advocate a gradual change in the agenda, with occasional insertions on social networks and talks on matters related to the economy. Now, the tendency is for this to be intensified, say parliamentarians and government interlocutors to the People’s Gazette.

Bolsonaro and government officials are expected to intensify their talks about Auxílio Brasil and the actions taken to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine on the pocketbook of Brazilian families. It is a consensus among interlocutors and allies that reelection will only be won with effective and exhaustive communication along the lines of “how the government avoided the worst”.

“If the economy improves, then nobody beats the president. But, so that we don’t just depend on that, the government will make an effort to inform the population that, if the economy didn’t ‘explode’, it was because the pandemic and war came, and that the worst was avoided with Auxílio Brasil and emergency aid”, explains a government interlocutor. “This is the debate that will define the election,” he adds.

What nods does Bolsonaro make to the economic agenda and what is Guedes’ role

Little by little, Bolsonaro has reinserted the economic agenda as a priority. Last Tuesday (26), the president published on his social media a video in which the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, talks about the government’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on the economy.

“Minister Paulo Guedes exposes facts about Brazil’s outstanding economic performance during and after the global Covid crisis, a result achieved thanks to our decision to prioritize not only the fight against the virus, but also the unemployment caused by the irresponsible ‘close everything'”, commented Bolsonaro in the published video.

The video contains a speech by Guedes during a virtual event organized by Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), an American think tank. The head of the economic team says that Brazilian spending went from 19% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 26.5%, but returned to 18.7%. He also comments that Brazil has “fully” protected 68 million Brazilians. “We digitized your data and transferred income of $120 a month for two consecutive years,” he said.

The prominence given to Guedes was celebrated by the economic team and by allied businessmen. There was a feeling that the head of the team had been politically sidelined since the discussion about lowering fuel prices — which resulted in more friction with the minister and a resignation from the Petrobras presidency.

Guedes’ participation in the event organized in Brasília on Sunday (1st) was even something foreseen by the government. Organizers were warned that he would hop on the electric trio to speak about the government’s achievements since the pandemic, but the planning was aborted after a legal assessment of how the speech could be interpreted.

The head of the economic team works together with the Minister of Citizenship, Ronaldo Bento, to present to the population the consigned credit line for beneficiaries of Auxílio Brasil, which is not yet in force as it depends on the definition of rules. The two ministries are working on the final touches to present the measure, which is part of a billion-dollar program to stimulate consumption and job creation that the government launched in March.

On Wednesday (27), Bolsonaro returned to the networks to talk about government disbursements with the payment of emergency aid and Brazil. He highlighted that 118.7 million people were benefited with R$ 354.6 billion transferred over two years. And that, since November 2021, Auxílio Brasil has already transferred BRL 30.9 billion to 18 million families, at an average monthly benefit of BRL 409.81.

Government includes readjustments, hiring of servers and family in the economy agenda

The suggestion made by Bolsonaro’s allies is that the president does not restrict his defenses to the economic agenda only on social media, but incorporates it more into everyday speech and intensifies it. The recommendation is made not only for Auxílio Brasil, but also for the generation of jobs and hiring of civil servants.

This Monday (2), for example, Bolsonaro told supporters that 1,000 new vacancies will be opened for the Federal Police (PF) and another 1,000 vacancies for the Federal Highway Police (PRF). The president took advantage of the conversation with supporters to counter and provoke former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), a likely opponent at the polls in October.

He called the PT “a steely guy” for blaming him for the high inflation and highlighted that the rise in prices comes from “stay at home and we’ll see the economy later”, when states restricted the functioning of economic activity. It also provoked the critical speech made by the former president to police officers. “I’m solving the PF and PRF issue because they are even profitable for us. Apprehensions, fighting corruption. That’s why a guy with nine fingers said that I don’t like people, I just like the police”, he said.

The proposal to the police is a gesture he makes to serve a key category for his electorate and is also part of the government’s gesture to mitigate the discomfort of public servants after the government signaled with a 5% readjustment to the all servers. In an interview on Friday (29), Bolsonaro defended the index.

“It seems that everybody doesn’t like it. Some say, so it’s zero. You can’t do that, there are a lot of people who, if it’s in that line, 5% interests them. getting hard for everyone”, he declared in an interview with the radio station Metrópole FM, from Cuiabá (MT).

The readjustment suggested by the government to civil servants shows a concession made by Guedes to the political wing. Interlocutors from the economic team maintain that he is more willing to dialogue with the political core of the government and overcome the differences and the arm wrestling generated still in the internal debate that raised Auxílio Brasil to R$ 400.

The generation of jobs and nods to the family are bets that the government will adopt. The former Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, who helps Bolsonaro’s electoral strategy, will take up the discourse of job and income generation in the neighborhoods and administrative centers where Brazilians live, especially the heads of families who reside in poorer areas.

The former minister, who can be a name for the Senate or as Bolsonaro’s deputy, will circulate in the country and has a speech ready to unite the social, economic and family agendas. “We want this low-income woman and man to work in their region. They want to reduce their working time and transfer time from one place to another. This is the speech that the minister will take to Brazil”, says one interlocutor.

Like Guedes, Damares’ participation in the act in Brasília was also planned by the government and had been informed to organizers. However, she followed the recommendations made to the head of the economic team and Bolsonaro and did not go up in the electric trio.

Allies defend focus on Auxílio Brasil and works in Brazil

Federal deputy Zé Vitor (PL-MG), deputy leader of the party, in the Chamber, is one of the enthusiasts in the bet on the economic and social agendas. For him, the pardon granted to Daniel Silveira was important to reconnect the government with the most “root” base of Bolsonaro’s voters. However, he understands that this agenda contributes little to the search for “moderate” and undecided voters.

“A speech with the achievements of infrastructure by the ministry then headed by Tarcísio [de Freitas, pré-candidato ao governo de São Paulo] is more exciting than a speech like that related to Daniel”, he defends. “The president’s “poster boys” need to be Tarcísio and Tereza [Cristina, ex-ministra da Agricultura e pré-candidata ao Senado]”, he adds.

The parliamentarian is one of those who advocates that Bolsonaro incorporate the economic agenda in his speeches and that the government invest in institutional communication to explain everything that has been done on the economic agenda to the population. “Social networks are a phenomenon, but printed newspapers, radio and TV stations also have their weight. It is necessary to improve information about what the president has done and, at the same time, remember what has been done in previous PT governments”, he analyzes.

“Communication at this moment is essential to show the good results that the federal government has achieved now and to show without any retouching who the real Lula is. When people understand the mega corruption scheme that existed at that time, when they understood the irresponsibility with public money, they will start to think very well. Or else we will legitimize the election of a thief without a doubt and we cannot run the risk of retroacting”, adds Zé Vitor.

Another nod made by Bolsonaro is along the lines of showing the government’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of the war in Ukraine. At the opening of the 87th edition of the largest zebu livestock fair in the world, ExpoZebu, in Uberaba (MG), the president said that Russia has sent ships with fertilizers to Brazil and that the agricultural sector will comply with the request of the World Organization for Trade (WTO) to expand the food supply.

Federal deputy Bibo Nunes (PL-RS), deputy leader of the party, is another who defends the economic agenda. Allied with Bolsonaro’s “root” base, he understands that the defense of pardon and freedom of expression had its importance for political and electoral strategy, but he agrees that it is important to broaden the discourse.

“It is necessary to stimulate the economy and show the benefits in the economy, which are broad, despite the pandemic and the war”, he highlights. “You have to know the difference between Auxílio Brasil, which is not only double the Bolsa Família, which was R$193 and went up to R$400. When Auxílio Brasil is offered, opportunities for study and employment are offered . It’s different from the other one, which left families at the mercy of the left”, he adds.

The parliamentarian refers to the extra R$200 that Auxílio Brasil beneficiaries earn per month for two years if they get a job, proof, in Nunes’ opinion, of the difference in methodology in how the Bolsonaro government treats social assistance. “And defending the program is important, because we are talking about distributing income with responsibility. It makes money circulate and generate jobs in the economy”, he analyzes.

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