Movements in Congress

Carlos Zilio, VIDA VIVIDA, 1970, felt-tip pen on paper, 47x32,5
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By ANDRÉ SINGER*

The departure of the DEM and the MDB from the government support block will affect the race for the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies

The MDB and DEM benches, totaling 63 deputies, decided to distance themselves from the group – known as “blocão” – which has systematically supported the federal government. The removal of these benches does not make the government's role in the Chamber of Deputies unfeasible, as it continues to have the potential support of around 200 deputies who remain in the so-called “government base”.

This decision, however, has an important medium-term consequence, as it will affect the race for the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies, to be held in February 2021; in which the succession of the current president Rodrigo Maia (DEM deputy) will be decided. The presidency of the Chamber of Deputies is a key element, as its president is the only one who can authorize an impeachment request to be forwarded to the plenary of Congress.

In the context of polarization in which we live – more intense before, in June when the arrest of former PM Fabrício Queiroz made the President of the Republic stop the offensive that he had been staging since the beginning of the pandemic – the election of the president of the Chamber will be very important.

This movement influences the national political framework to the extent that it poses a kind of uncertainty about the future of the Bolsonaro government. At this time, the Bolsonaro government, with the alliance it made with Centrão, managed to temporarily block the impeachment proposals forwarded by democratic sectors of society. These sectors understand that an authoritarian escalation is underway in Brazil that needs to be stopped.

However, as there will be a dispute in February of next year for the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies and someone who has a certain degree of independence may be elected, this issue may be raised again. It's not that she will automatically rejoin, because these two parties, the MDB and the DEM, have had a very ambiguous position in relation to the government. But, in any case, it has maintained a differentiated position in relation to the parties that are faithfully with Bolsonaro, at least while this agreement established with Centrão lasts, the negotiation that offered government positions in exchange for support in the National Congress.

*André Singer is a professor of political science at USP. Author, among other books, of Lulism in Crisis (Company of Letters).

Text established from an interview given to Gustavo Xavier, on USP radio.

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