The PMDB (Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement), Brazil’s ruling Workers Party main ally in Congress, has formed its own legislative group hoping to dispute some of the most strategic posts in the new congress that takes office next January first.
The decision was criticized by president-elect Dilma Rousseff transition team, fearing it could anticipate a fracture in the ruling coalition.
PMDB in alliance with other conservative parties now counts with 202 members in the Lower House (513) and is determined to dispute the House speaker’s post from the Workers Party and press for a greater share in the future ministerial cabinet of Ms Rousseff.
“We helped with Dilma’s victory” and this must be compensated with government posts said the head of the PMDB block in the Lower House Henrique Eduardo Alves.
The presidential ticket Dilma Rousseff with PMDB Michel Temer as Vice-president comfortably swept through the October 31 ballot and later established a transition team for the distribution of ministries in the cabinet.
PMDB’s initiative was not well received by the Workers Party chairman José Eduardo Dutra.
“Who commands is President Dilma” and who will decide the distribution of posts will be her “and not congressional blocks”, said Dutra according to quotes in the São Paulo press.
The Workers Party Lower House speaker Cândido Vacarezza anticipated that his grouping “would not accept hostile attitudes from PMDB allies.”
PMDB has been a decisive political force for all governments since the return of democracy to Brazil in 1985.
President Lula’s congressional agenda was repeatedly stalled, particularly during his first mandate (2003/2007), and had to appeal to “non-orthodox” means to have bills approved. The non-orthodox system (outright monthly handouts ‘mensalões’ to Congress members) eventually blew up and brought down several of the Brazilian president’s closest advisors.
However Lula later reached a coalition agreement in Congress with the PMDB which facilitated his legislative agenda.
Furthermore for the first time the PMDB agreed not have its own presidential candidate but rather take the Vice president slate with Dilma Rousseff, which proved to be successful at the ballot box, in spite of the fact that the president-elect had never run for office before.