The hard core of the next Brazilian government will be made up of veteran men who belong to the Workers’ Party (PT), to its orbit or were ministers at some point in their 14 years at the head of power. The president-elect, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, announced this Friday to the hard core of the Cabinet that he will begin his third term on New Year’s Day. Lula has presented the heads of the Economy, the Civil House —equivalent to prime minister—, Defense, Foreign Relations and Justice. The strong man for Economy, as he always said, will be a politician, Fernando Haddad, 59, who took over the PT presidential candidacy when Lula was jailed. The head of Defense is a civilian, a man of consensus who has a good relationship with the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, outgoing president.
Those chosen for this first batch of strategic ministers are all old acquaintances of Brazilian politics. All men, mostly white. “The time will come when you are going to see many women, many blacks, Afro-descendants”, said the leftist Lula flanked by the chosen ones as soon as he began his speech, before even publicly confirming which ministry he has entrusted to each one. In this first block of appointments there are also no representatives of the dozen parties that allied with the PT and accepted Lula’s leadership to defeat Bolsonaro in defense of Brazilian democracy.
Lula has decided to maintain his commitment to Haddad at the head of Economy, although investors and economic power have already let him know with stock market falls that they dislike the choice of this former minister and university professor, they would have preferred someone more liberal. However, he is highly trusted by the next president, who has promised fiscal responsibility but wants to prioritize social policies. By appointing him, Lula sends the message that he prioritizes negotiations with Congress over economic reforms. Haddad faces the challenge of stimulating economic growth in a country that has hardly grown for a decade.
At the head of Defense will be Jose Mucio, 74, who has a good personal relationship with Bolsonaro and whom Lula appointed Minister of the Court of Public Accounts at the end of his second term. His mission is to depoliticize the Armed Forces. The foreign minister will be Mauro Vieira, 71, a diplomat who is returning to the position he held years ago and to which Bolsonaro banished by sending him as ambassador to Croatia. The person in charge of the Civil House will be the former governor of Bahia, Rui Costa, 59 years old and also of the PT; and that of Justice, the former judge and former governor of Maranhão Flavio Dino, 54, who has always orbited around Lula’s party.
The appointments have been announced at a press conference in Brasilia, shortly before the start of the Brazil-Croatia World Cup. The only one absent, the next chancellor, who is precisely still in Zagreb, Lula explained. “When the game is over, I will meet with comrade Mucio”, he said in reference to the meeting in which he will speak with the future head of Defense and the next heads of the Army, Navy and Aeronautics. Everything indicates that Lula will continue the tradition of electing the most veteran.
Mucio, who knows Bolsonaro from the days when both were deputies, is considered a conciliator with whom Lula hopes to soften relations with the military. During Bolsonaro’s presidency, the uniformed have had power in the Cabinet, in an Administration and a public presence unprecedented since the country regained democracy.
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Three weeks after his inauguration, Lula begins to reveal who will accompany him in this return to power after winning the elections against Bolsonaro. He brought forward the presentation of these first names with respect to his original plan because, he has said, “I need them to start setting up the Government.” With them, he hopes to already have interlocutors with Congress and the military. The dialogue with the parliamentarians is crucial to be able to approve the extra financing that he needs to pay his main electoral promise, the payment of 600 reais (108 euros, 114 dollars) that 21 million families receive and the 150 reais for each child under six years. A program to combat poverty that Bolsonaro renamed Auxilio Brasil and will be called Bolsa Familia again.
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