Dilma Rousseff Government

BRAZIL POLITICS - Report 08 Oct 2015 by Murillo de Aragão and Cristiano Noronha

In less than one year, President Dilma Rousseff has achieved a record number of political defeats and placed her mandate in serious peril.

Five days ago, President Dilma Rousseff announced a political and administrative cabinet reform under the guidance and influence of former President Lula. She cut eight ministries (from 39 to 31) and in act of appeasement, apportioned a substantial part of her party’s and her own political influence.

The biggest winner of the shake-up was the PMDB. This allied party reaped the most benefits from the reform, including an additional ministry, raising its total to seven, as well as control over the Ministry of Health, which has the largest federal budget. This reduced the PT’s influence, but created space for Lula, whose team took over the political negotiations.

The reform failed.

Political ill will and pessimism still pervade in Brasilia. The substantial effort made by President Dilma was unable to revert the fragmentation of her political support base. On the contrary, parties in her governing base, left out of the appeasement process, threatened to rebel against President Dilma.

The fallout from Rousseff’s political and administrative reform established a new benchmark for lack of governability during her five years in office. In the short span of 24 hours, President Dilma suffered merciless defeats at the hands of the Judicial and Legislative powers.

She attempted to turn the page in Congress by getting her vetoes voted upon, and failed; she attempted to remove the justice designated to be rapporteur in her case in the Federal Courts of Accounts (TCU), and failed. She appealed to the Supreme Court (STF) in an attempt to delay proceedings, and failed. And lastly, she experienced defeat in the Superior Electoral Court (STF), which decided to reopen a financial investigation pertaining to her 2014 campaign.

These misfortunes, although not definitive, significantly aggravate the current political climate, casting serious doubt about the political future of President Dilma. In the 30 years since re-democratization, only Presidents Sarney and Collor suffered setbacks of such a grave nature, the first of whom stumbled through a political and inflationary roller coaster, and the second of whom succumbed to impeachment. Dilma Rousseff has the unenviable record for the most political missteps in the span of 24 hours in Brazilian political history.

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