The Brazilian scene – V

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By BENICIO VIERO SCHMIDT*

Comments on recent events

In Brazil, the highlight remains the pandemic. Terrified by the demand for Intensive Care Centers, state secretaries and governors are putting pressure on the Federal Government to release the resources intended for use during the pandemic that remain being dammed up, almost 80 billion reais. This situation led Senator Tasso Jereissati (PSDB-CE) to grant an interview to the newspaper The State of S. Paul, in which he pathetically says that “we need to stop this guy”, referring to President Jair M. Bolsonaro. This, instead of meeting the demands of the secretaries and governors for the installation of more ICUs, makes provocations stating that the states – and not the Federal Government – ​​are responsible for the crisis.

In any political system, social demands have to be met to some extent. As the Federal Government refuses to carry out this intermediation, the President of the Federal Chamber, Arthur Lira, called the governors to a face-to-face and virtual meeting, officially dealing with the 2021 budget, but, in fact, pressuring the government to adopt measures of a similar nature. national. The decisions of the states are private and there is a lack of coordination between states, municipalities and the Union.

In short, a great quid pro quo that points to an unexpected crisis due to its sharpness. Over time, the federal government was expected to wear out, but not as fast as it has been now due to its responses to the pandemic.

In addition, recent measures such as the exemption of gas and fuel (the latter for a few months) require compensation of around five billion reais that the Federal Government decided to tax financial activities, increasing the rate of Social Contribution on Net Profits ( CSLL) from 20% to 25% for banks and from 15% to 20% for insurance companies. Finally, the pressures of the financial market and those of a political nature come together, ingredients of a serious crisis over the Presidency of the Republic.

In the heat of the dispute for resources and in the search for the adoption of better measures against the coronavirus, deputies and senators are also focusing on the still incipient project of political reform. As in every pre-election year in Brazil, Congress is moving to change the rules for the next election. It is a Brazilian custom and nothing changes this historical habit. In this case, the possibility of creating a “district” is suggested, a formula in which only the most voted candidates are elected, regardless of the number of votes obtained by the parties.

This weakens parties and party coalitions, diminishing the importance of proportional voting. The idea is really to weaken the parties, control the interference of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) in the determination of legislation and dismantle the system of control of expenses of candidates to proportional elections.

The current picture deteriorates much faster than expected. In this scenario, the traits and profiles of candidacies for the presidency in 2022 begin to be outlined. Ciro Gomes launches his book, but does not signal – in the interviews and interventions he makes – with alternative goals that are achievable. The same happens with the PT, which published a long document on possible changes in the face of the scenario to be left by the Bolsonaro government, but does not make an effort to disseminate it with the necessary intensity.

Finally, the acceleration of the coronavirus crisis, the pressure from governors, state secretaries, mayors, added to the anorexia of pre-candidates for President of the Republic, create a very curious and very tense situation in the current national situation.

*Benicio Viero Schmidt is a retired professor of sociology at UnB. Author, among other books, of The State and urban policy in Brazil (LP&M).

 

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