Hostility and frustration: understand the scenario that marks today

Appointed by President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) to fill the vacancy of former minister Mauro Aurélio Mello in the Federal Supreme Court (STF), former Federal Attorney General André Mendonça remains in the refrigerator of the legislative game. Still no date to have his nomination evaluated by the parliamentarians of the Committee on Constitution and Justice (CCJ), he completes three months of waiting this Wednesday (13).

The scenario behind the delay is highlighted by the feeling of revenge of the president of the CCJ, Davi Alcolumbre (DEM-AP), in relation to the head of the Executive. Frustrated by not having won the post of Executive Minister in 2021, as had been previously promised by the former captain, the Amapá native started using the commission as a ring to charge the president for the bill for not being appointed to the Esplanade.

The issue, however, does not alone explain the icy scenario in which Mendonça finds himself in the Legislature today, despite the seams and constant comings and goings of the former AGU to senators’ offices to deal with support for the nomination in the future hearing.

It is common among analysts and lawmakers to read that the Senate is currently less willing to serve Bolsonaro’s interests. In a way, the behavior escapes the historic posture of the House, seen as more conservative and inclined to agreements with the governments on duty.

“It is noteworthy, for example, that the CPI emerged in the Senate. In other times, the Chamber would be a minefield for him, but today the Chamber is an extension of the government – ​​of course, within the limits offered by the center. Who rules the government, the budget, in Brazil is the center-Câmara. And the Senate, amazingly enough, is an absolutely complicated place for Bolsonaro”, observes Marcos Verlaine, political analyst at the Inter-union Department of Parliamentary Advice (Diap).

For the political scientist Leonardo Barreto, different factors contribute to the composition of this new scenario of the relationship. He highlights the “opposition coalition” that made the government’s interests in the House unfeasible through the chess set up by the Covid Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI), promoter of the main damage to Bolsonaro’s image in the Senate.

“The Senate’s own agenda was frozen for quite a while while Covid’s CPI was proceeding. There was a contamination of the works”, he summarizes. In the midst of this, different guidelines from Bolsonaro’s booklet found an unexpected or even bitter fate in the House for the government.

This is the case of Provisional Measure (MP) 1045, nicknamed “mini-labour reform” and one of the items on the neoliberal agenda of Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, which was defeated in the plenary at the beginning of September by 47 votes to 27.

Despite presidential support for Pacheco’s candidacy for the Senate, aid is not seen by analysts as support for the journey that led the new president of the House to the post / Alan Santos/PR

Other agendas of interest to the management were shipwrecked at birth. This is what happened with the unpopular Provisional Measure of the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (MP 1068), which conquered the dislike of parliamentarians of the most different hues and ended up rejected by Pacheco in mid-September.

There were also government proposals that were approved in the Chamber, but which lost their rhythm when they entered the Senate. This is the case of Bill (PL) 2159/2021, which weakens environmental licensing and therefore finds adversaries among opposition parliamentarians, environmentalists and other specialists from civil society.

Approved quickly by the plenary of the Chamber in May, the proposal reached the Senate in June and had the support of government and ruralists to jump directly to the plenary of the House. The impetus, however, ended up being slowed down by Pacheco, who defined a rite a little more measured to the measure, currently being evaluated by the Environment and Agriculture Commissions.

“The Senate is now hostile terrain to Bolsonaro, although it is not exactly oppositional terrain. That’s why I don’t see crisis, but confrontation. It is impossible to deny the hostility of the House today towards the President of the Republic”, ponders Marcos Verlaine, from Diap.

“An interesting thermometer to measure this is the position of Simone Tebet (MDB-MS), a center-right senator who had no ideological opposition to the government and today does not close with Bolsonaro on practically anything”, emphasizes the analyst.


A strong political character, senator Simone Tebet (MDB-MS) leads the women’s bench, has an expression in Covid’s CPI and does not go unnoticed in the scenario of collegial forces’ opposition / Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado

The emedebista, in fact, was one of those who vigorously reacted to Bolsonaro’s vetoes last Thursday (7) to the project that provides for free distribution of tampons for low-income women and people living on the streets.

Presidential vetoes are among the elements that contribute to the somewhat arid scenario of the current relationship between the government and the Senate. The list of guidelines that have generated sparks and discomfort between the two parties in recent times in this regard is plentiful and has as one of the most recent engines the scissors of the Chief Executive in the project that deals with feminine pads.

“It’s another sign of his contempt for the human condition,” fired Tebet (MDB-MS), who heads the women’s bench in the House. The president of the Senate said that the veto “is a candidate to be overthrown”.

Lira X Pacheco

The context of lesser fertility for the initiatives of the President of the Republic in the Senate has apparently robust differences in relation to the scenario seen in the Chamber. In drawing the parallel, Leonardo Barreto cites, in addition to the current CPI, the fact that Pacheco did not have substantial support from Bolsonaro for his election, in February this year.

“Bolsonaro worked more alliances and has more commitments with Lira than with Pacheco. While Lira was an opposition candidate [a Rodrigo Maia] in the Chamber that ended up defeating Maia, Pacheco was a solution sewn by Alcolumbre, which even had the support of the Presidency of the Republic, but there was not even an opposition candidate. Pacheco feels much less indebted to the government than Lira”.

The more liturgical profile of the senator from Minas also weighs on the behavior of the Senate in front of the Planalto Palace. Less adept at untimely reactions, Pacheco’s tone clashes with the “steam roller” style associated with Lira and the conduct of Bolsonaro, who recently experienced an institutional crisis with the Judiciary, for example.


Bolsonaro, Pacheco and Lira have affinities with regard to the economic agenda, but the trio cultivate differences in political profile among themselves / Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

The attacks even resulted in the presentation of a request for impeachment of Minister Alexandre de Moraes by the head of the Executive in August, but the onslaught foundered. In addition to attracting opposition from a large part of the House, the request was officially rejected by Pacheco, who alleged a lack of legal adequacy and the need to preserve independence between the Powers.

The episode helped to demarcate the Senate’s greatest displeasure with the excesses of the head of the Republic. “In fact, Pacheco is now in the position of presidential candidate, and an opposition candidate, something that has never happened in the history of the Senate, at least thinking that the president of the House will have to run against the president of the Republic”, recalls Barreto.

He points out that Planalto candidates tend to seek more moderate positions in order to gain greater acceptance among the electorate and that this path would not combine with accepting the impeachment of a STF minister.

Despite this, analysts understand that the scenario between the former captain and the Senate does not exactly configure a crisis between the institution and the president. Leonardo Barreto does not see most senators as, for example, actors interested in an impeachment or something more daring.

“Senate is at a different pace, being led by different interests, but I think it is not in the interests of the House to create exactly a paralysis. I think it’s in their interest to make a stand, make their difference, try to act as a moderating power of Bolsonaro and be recognized for that, but without interest in paralyzing or overthrowing the president, for example”, analyzes the political scientist.

Edition: Vivian Virissimo

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