This Wednesday, the Senate began the session in which it will not only choose the president of the Chamber for the next two years, but will also serve as a sample of the real possibilities of the opposition led by Bolsonarismo to dismantle the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The dispute between Planalto’s favourite, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), who is running for re-election, and former Bolsonaro government minister Rogério Marinho (PL-RN), has conquered the air for some members of the Chamber of a “third round” of elections. The voting board should therefore serve to measure, albeit approximately, the strength that the opposition will have to complicate the government in approving the priority measures.
Pacheco’s allies estimate that he will get between 50 and 55 votes to be re-elected, a good margin above the necessary 41. Three congressional sources exclude the possibility of a victory for the opposition group. Marinho’s organizers, however, are betting on a narrow score, and also on a victory for Jair Bolsonaro’s former minister.
Both candidates expect betrayals. For Marinho, it is believed that the presumptive voters of the current Senate president would be dissatisfied with Pacheco and his main articulator, Senator Davi Alcolumbre (União-AP), who would give little space to parliamentarians in leadership and prominent positions in the house.
On Pacheco’s part, the expectation is that senators will feel embarrassed to vote for a candidate linked to Bolsonaro, especially after the anti-democratic vandalism of the headquarters of the Three Powers on January 8, committed by radical supporters of the former president who defended a coup against Lula.
The candidate for re-election is also counting on the fact that he is already in office and that he has the sympathy of the government, which, according to one of the sources consulted, has bargaining power in offering jobs.
Arko Advice predicts that Pacheco will have between 45 and 48 votes, while Marinho should attract 25 to 32 senators. Voting is secret, with paper ballots.
Whoever emerges victorious will have the power to define the agenda of the plenary and also to accept or reject requests for the opening of Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry (CPI) or to impeach ministers of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), e.g. example.
It will also have the role of presiding over the National Congress, thus being the representative of Power in institutional matters, as well as conducting joint votes for the analysis of presidential vetoes and budget projects, among other prerogatives, such as the appealing issues which are considered unconstitutional, detrimental to laws or regulations.
Leading the Senate, Pacheco tried to act with moderation, without major friction with the previous government. However, the senator acted as a shield to the Chamber for the controversial issues defended by Bolsonaro, mainly those relating to customs guidelines. Furthermore, he has been a constant defender of the reliability of electronic voting machines and the fairness of the electoral process, which have often been attacked by the current former president.
A former minister of Bolsonaro, Marinho was the rapporteur for the labor reform in the government of former president Michel Temer, at the time criticized by the trade unions.
Bolsonaro defended the election of his ally to the seat of the Senate at an event on Tuesday evening in Orlando, United States.
A third candidate is running for office, Senator Eduardo Girão (Podemos-CE).
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