And now Rodrigo Maia?

Image: Cyrus Saurius


No bench, no candidate, no vote: what's left of the so-called political center?

Even on the left, Bolsonarism even agreed to treat military officers as members of a select club of posture and rectitude, implying that they would not mix with the notorious “old politics”. Convention has always been fallacious. Henrique Saboia, invited to be Minister of the Navy by Tancredo, and maintained by Sarney, explained, in an interview with Celso Castro and Maria Celina D'Araújo,[1] in 1998, the relevance of the Centrão in the Constituent Assembly to block the agenda of the left and what the officers of the three forces called “revanchism”.

According to the admiral, everything was very difficult, but “after the 'Centrão' was created, we found it easier” (2001, p. 61). Worse was “the people on the left, with crazy revanchism, always”; on the other hand, “the easiest ones were those who had more affinity, the people from the 'Centrão', with whom it was easier to dialogue, to understand” (2001, p. 63). The Centrão in the constituent was a solution for completing the slow, gradual and safe transition of the military. The “old policy” was the solution of the conservative forces in the Constituent Assembly, as it was in the 2016 Coup, in the Temer government and, now, in the Bolsonaro government. Today, Minister Ramos, a newly dressed general, declares that the military “understand the alliance with Centrão”, reaffirming the old affinity.[2]

If Centrão is synonymous with the formation of a non-party conservative group, linked to the demands of the ruling class and hegemonic political groups, such as the military, without making such exogenous demands paradoxical with the internal demands of the parties and groups (endogenous) that compose it, it must It can be concluded that the Constituent Assembly gave us, in addition to the first evangelical bench in history, financed by the Assembly of God, the Centrão as a political actor of the New Republic. One can even point out some differences between the Constituent Centrão and the current Centrão, but, analyzed in its essence, which is to grant some governability, the differences fade away like clouds after a summer storm. The Centrão is a product of the democratic transition, alongside the amnesty for torturers and murderers against the “revanchism” of the left.

Centrão has always disputed the role of governing entity with the MDB, which was in charge of giving the majority to the alleged social democratic bipartisanship between PSDB and PT. With the 2016 coup, the MDB took flight for which it was not programmed. It was for the government to negotiate with the new pillar of governance, continuing the alliance established in the impeachment of Dilma through Eduardo Cunha. It is important to point out that Centrão's flight is directly proportional to the MDB's flight to the government, since the electoral and governability pact of the New Republic was broken by liberal-conservative forces linked to the financial market, for whom the immediacy of looting was overrides the political process and institutional stability. For this reason, the rise of the Centrão, former low clergy, could only happen with the blessing of the MDB.

Eduardo Cunha's actions are not the only clues and evidence. The actions of many party actors convey a unique position, repeated in unison. From Michel Temer to Eunicio Oliveira, from Lobão to Fernando Bezerra, from Baleia Rossi to his father. And it is in the relationship between father and son that there is an important document of that moment, written by Roberto Rodrigues in October 2015. The former minister of agriculture in the Lula government, close to the biodiesel agribusiness and managed by Wagner Rossi, also a former minister of agriculture and former coordinator of Conab (Companhia Nacional de Abastecimento) in the Lula government, wrote, already as Coordinator of the Agribusiness Center at FGV, FAO Special Ambassador for Cooperatives and President of LIDE Agronegócio – Thinktank by João Dória –, an article called the new center.[3] This text, reverberated in academic spaces, such as FGV, and in market media, such as Valor Econômico, from Grupo Globo, made a retrospective of the role of Centrão in the New Republic, from the Constituent Assembly to the role it should play from 2015 onwards.

According to Roberto Rodrigues, faced with the “fiasco” of the polarization between right and left, a supra-party group had arisen that would have given support to Ulysses Guimarães. Faced with this example, he considered, in 2015, that the moment demanded something similar, since “the political issue contaminates the economic and social ones, generating deviations such as the return of undesirable inflation and the worst modern scourge, which is unemployment”. In order to overcome party-political polarization, this group could “guarantee governance with a serious and responsible program, albeit with some bitter remedies to cure the ills caused in recent years by government mistakes”. Probably, the ex-minister document knew about the production of the program A bridge to the future, as he was aware of the behind-the-scenes actions of Michel Temer and Eduardo Cunha for the coup. Furthermore, the MDB's manifesto was published shortly after Roberto Rodrigues' article. According to Cunha, in an attempt to influence the election for the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies in favor of Artur Lira, Baleia Rossi articulated the impeachment steps in Rodrigo Maia's apartment, and there is nothing that happens to the Rossi family that Roberto Rodrigues does not participate or find out about it, and there is nothing that Roberto Rodrigues writes about politics that Wagner Rossi does not give his blessing. It is the position of a relevant part of agribusiness.

With the impeachment of Dilma, came the overthrow of the PSDB, registered in the poor vote of Alckmin. Without the MDB as a priority base for institutional support and governance, as it went to government, Centrão was left to play the role it played in the Constituent Assembly for the conservative forces. He fulfilled Roberto Rodrigues' wish, mediated by Eduardo Cunha. In other words, mediated by the MDB itself, already headlong in Centrão. The DEM ended up taking over, with Maia and Alcolumbre, the role that belonged to the MDB, as the main articulator of the Centrão, after the arrest of Eduardo Cunha. But this provision imploded the New Republic arrangement, since the MDB was unable, or rather, is unable to impose a viable name on the federal executive. The void was given. Faced with anti-PTism and the udenista and lavajatista attack against the left, removing Lula from the election with another institutional coup, endorsed by the STF, there could only be a right-wing candidate outside the institutional right. Bolsonaro came.

Already in 2018, the institutional right was defeated, more than the left, which, even under attack, managed to reach the second round, allowing the PT to impose a vigorous bench in the Chamber and guaranteeing a significant part of the electoral fund. As an institutional defense strategy, the PT ended up, despite everything, as a winner. Not a big winner, but a winner. The institutional right, especially the PSDB, was nationally destroyed, guaranteeing electoral weight only in Tucanistan, especially in the interior of São Paulo linked to agribusiness. If it had been an election only for greater São Paulo, Marcio “Cuba” would have been victorious.

In this new institutional arrangement, which embraces the barbarism of genocide, the violence of paramilitary groups (militias), pesticides, land grabbing and retail and wholesale lumpembourgeois, such as the Havan superhero, the institutional right was dynamited. The election for the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies fully and didactically showed the scorched earth, which explains the desperation of the search for the right-wing candidate who assumes the guise of a “democratic center”. This center, which involves the big banks and the media, excluded from the decision-making spaces they were used to since the Civil-Military Dictatorship, proposes the impossible: to be anti-bolsonarista and lavajatista, with both feet in rentism and in the identity sentimentality of the representation of the “no” included” in order to control the hungry mass. Luciano Huck would, in fact, be the ideal candidate.

But the reality is harsh. The election of the Chamber of Deputies showed that this right has nothing. It has no popular social base, taken over by Bolsonarism and the left, nor deputies. There are no deputies! Bolsonaro took the deputies from that right. Baleia obtained 145 votes. There are 122 deputies from left-wing acronyms. Of these, 16 voted for Erundina. It is estimated, by analyzing the developments in the election of the other positions at the table, 20 defections in favor of Lira, leaving 86 deputies from the left. That left 59 deputies from the MDB, DEM and PSDB obedient to Maia and Baleia (Temer), at most. This is the current balance of the institutional and pro-market right in the Chamber of Deputies, with great goodwill.

The shoe right has no deputies, no social base, no votes and no candidate. Dória, who is trying to be Berrini's Oswaldo Cruz, didn't take off. Worse, it lost support in the interior of São Paulo with the increase in ICMS, which indicates a fiscal crisis in the state of São Paulo in the next two years, and with the closure of commerce, revealing that Bolsonarism won, in practice, the narrative of the economy versus social isolation, at least among commerce entrepreneurs. Demonstrations sprout in the mountains against Dória for the state of São Paulo. Without the state, and with its difficulty in selling outside the Southeast, its real chances are very low, as recently revealed by the Atlas survey. Huck, on the other hand, presents the problem that, if he accepts to be a candidate, risking his professional future if he loses (and the chance is really great), he does not have a platform outside the Caldeirão, which is corroborated by the defections of the DEM, PSDB and MDB to Bolsonarism. In practice, the ideal for this right would be to remove Bolsonaro from the game with an impeachment, as they are unlikely to reach the second round with him on the field. Baleia's defeat, for now, threw that alternative into the trash can.

As a result of this process and the anticipation of these defeats, Gilmar Mendes' attempt to maneuver for the re-election of Maia and Alcolumbre, catapulted by the lavajatismo of Barroso, Fux and Fachin, shone. The action of the Second Panel's guarantors over Deltan and Moro should be seen not only as a correction to the crimes against the homeland of the mentioned minions, but as an action to isolate the lavajatistas in court, which prevent a viable institutional solution. Gilmar Mendes is the political actor who has the real dimension of the political crisis. Therefore, the action and haste of Gilmar Mendes, guiding Moro's suspicion in favor of Lula, is not inappropriate, as it may be a way out of the crisis that the right has created. If it will, it will depend on many factors that will still be disputed throughout 2021.

The right was buried by Bolsonaro. The president took everything: federal police, TCU, CGU (already resolved in the Temer government), PGR, state police, Public Ministries, Judiciary and, now, Congress. It is very likely that Centrão has now come to stay. However, it must be noted that the Centrão is not a government, nor does it provide the governance that the MDB gave to the PSDB and the PT, especially in the Lula government. But it will provide sufficient governability for reforms. It seems that the logic of those in Bolsonaro's government is to treat Brazil as scorched earth. Take everything you can by 2022. Simple as that! And this project combines with the quintet of Bolsonarist social base: churches, paramilitary groups (militias), army, agribusiness and market.

The market reacted positively to the election of Artur Lira and Rodrigo Pacheco, as it understands the Centrão in the same way that the military understood it in the Constituent Assembly: a facilitator, a problem solver, who, paying, delivers what was agreed. It was what ensured the lightning approval of the Labor Reform with Temer and Cunha. There is no disagreement between Centrão and Bolsonarism, as Centrão is dominated by Bolsonarism and Bolsonarism is organized in Centrão. Governance will be privatizations, reforms and some guidelines dear to Bolsonarism, but also dear to part of the Centrão, such as the legalization of land grabbing and mining, including in indigenous lands. The scorched earth, taking everything possible, refineries, oil blocks, Eletrobrás, Casa da Moeda, was represented at Lira's party. The situation doesn't matter, the pandemic doesn't matter, nor the dead and the economic and food crises on Brazilians. The scene, resembling the dance on Ilha Fiscal, shows a broad and cohesive political group celebrating a victory that provides booty, as if they were soldiers who won a war and subjugated the enemy.

*Leonardo Sacramento He holds a PhD in Education from UFSCar. Author of The Mercantile University: a study on the relationship between public university and private capital (Appris).

*Igor Grabois, an economist, is director of Grabois Olímpio Consultoria Política.


[1]CASTRO, Celso; D'Araujo, Maria Celina. Military and Politics in the New Republic. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Getulio Vargas Foundation, 2001.

[2]Minister Ramos says that he “is not ashamed” of articulating with Centrão and that the military understands the moment. O ESTADÃO, February 10, 2021.

[3]RODRIGUES, Robert. A new center. GLOBO RURAL, Oct., 2015.


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