Brazilians Approve of Lula’s Continuing Interference in Government

Rousseff and Lula Public opinion support by Brazilians of the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, has climbed two points following the recent cabinet reshuffle. At the same time a majority of Brazilians  believes that former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva continues to intervene in government affairs, but this participation is considered ‘correct.’

The opinion poll DataFolha published Sunday shows Dilma’s support climbed to 47% which according to records is higher than former president Lula da Silva’s at the beginning of his first mandate in 2003.

Last week President Rousseff lost her cabinet chief Antonio Palocci over questions about his personal finances and also changed the link between the Executive and Congress, in an attempt to improve relations with the ten-party ruling coalition.

However Ms Rousseff’s standing was up in spite of the fact that 60% of those interviewed said that the Palocci incident had ‘an impact’.

More specifically on Lula, who effectively intervened to help solve the Palocci crisis, 64% of Brazilian public opinion said it was correct he had done so. But 59% also stated they were against an ‘active role’ of the former president in the Rousseff administration affairs.

Mauro Paulino, head of DataFolha said that claims against ministers and lawmakers in Brazil have a limited impact: people are more concerned about their pockets.

“There is a growing perception of a worsening of the country’s and their personal situation. There are more Brazilians concerned with the loss of purchasing power, with unemployment and the increase of inflation,” said Paulino.

And if that is the question, why does this not show in a drop of support for President Rousseff and her predecessor Lula? “Economic gains of the last few years are still greater than specific threats.”

But letting Palocci go and reshuffling the cabinet, “contributed to heighten her personal image,” underlined Paulino.

According to Folha de S. Paulo, President Rousseff last Friday met with Vice President Michel Temer and the head of the Senate José Sarney, both from the main ally in the ruling coalition, PMDB, to inform them of her choice of Minister Ideli Salvatti as the new link between Planalto (Executive) and Congress.

At the meeting the President recalled that former Senator Salvatti, in spite she is not much loved in the coalition, had “saved” both Temer and Sarney when they both faced serious corruption allegations and were ‘almost impeached.’

The DataFolha opinion poll indicates that 7% consider President Rousseff’s performance “terrible”; 34%, fair; 47% good and 12% declined to express an opinion.


State-controlled gas and oil multinational Petrobras announced Friday in an official release that President Dilma Rousseff’s administration former chief of staff Antonio Palocci had resigned to his post in the Administration Council of that corporation.

Palocci, considered one of the heavy weights of the Rousseff administration had stepped down following questionings about his personal finances that had been exposed weeks before by the Sao Paulo press.

“Petrobras announces that Antonio Palocci Filho has resigned to his post of Councilor, (member of the Administration Council) for which he had been elected at the Ordinary General Assembly 28 April 2011,” said the release.

At the moment of Palocci’s resignation from government and when he intended to take his post as councilor, Petrobras CEO José Sérgio Gabrielli said that the fact the former chief of staff had left government did not exclude him automatically from the advisory Petrobras council.

“The post is for the person and not for the minister. The minister in this case is a highly qualified person and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office has shelved the case with claims against him. Besides he left so as not to harm or expose government”, said Gabrielli following the resignation of Palocci.

The opposition had warned it would begin a congressional investigation into the case because it considered ‘offensive’ that Palocci ‘sacked’ from government was going to sit in an advisory post of Petrobras.

The former Economy minister, 2003/2006, under former president Lula allegedly multiplied his personal assets by 20 times in the four years since 2006 when he was member of Congress and in 2010 as head of the presidential campaign of Dilma Rousseff.

Palocci admitted his consultancy firm had indeed billed ‘close to US$ 10 million’ in recent years but refused to reveal the names of the corporations involved alleging “confidentiality.”

Palocci is considered a first class political articulator, has been the darling boy of Wall Street because of his ultra-orthodox approach to economics and belongs to the inner circle of Lula’s advisors.

Commenting Palocci’s resignation Lula said that Dilma “had the authority to fire the chief of staff and acted at the right time.”
Lula statements made headlines as the economic sector carefully waits for the repercussions of the scandal.

“It is always distressing to fire colleagues. I had to do it several times, but Dilma has the authority to do so and acted at the right timing,” Lula said referring to Antonio Palocci’s defenestration.

About the newly appointed Palocci’s substitute, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, Lula limited to say that “It’s fine; if she was picked by Dilma.”

Palocci was one of Lula’s top officials and one of the last party heads remaining in the government after a 2005 scandal brought down most of the Worker’s Party leaders.
Palocci has admitted that his personal financial assets have increased 20 times over in four years including the period he already was Rousseff’s chief of staff. Palocci is accused of embezzlement for maintain a consultancy firm that supposedly has lobbied for big companies.

Economic minister from 2003 to 2006, Palocci had to leave Lula da Silva’s government for violating the bank secrecy of a gardener who testified seeing him in a lobbyist gathering in Brasilia. But he was regarded as one of the last party men standing after the mensalão (big monthly allowance) scandal wiped out most of the party’s heads from the government.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vowed her government would not be “paralyzed” by the resignation of her most powerful minister, hoping to end a crisis that has worried investors and strained her relations with Congress.

Palocci’s resignation is Dilma’s first political test. There has been great expectation over her relations with opposition parties, capacity to manage crisis, prospects of governability and how vulnerable if she does not take the initiative immediately.

New Congress Liaison

Rousseff made the second key change in her cabinet on Friday, a move aimed at improving strained ties with allies in Congress. Luiz Sergio, the minister responsible for liaising with Congress, resigned from his post,
This followed complaints from Rousseff’s allies that Sergio was ineffective in managing relations with the 10-party ruling coalition.

Rousseff picked Fisheries minister Ideli Salvatti, 59, of the ruling Workers’ Party, PT, to replace Sergio, while Sergio will assume the job of Fisheries minister, the statement said.

Salvatti is a long-time legislator and former coalition leader in the Senate. She helped found the Workers Party in Santa Catarina her adopted (southern) state, and has since had a very active political life.

“Relations with all political parties will be most respectful, always”, she emphasized following her designation. However, “I’m not always Idelizinha, ‘love and peace’, I will make myself listened also.”

Rousseff’s influential chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, stepped down on Tuesday over a personal finance scandal, depriving the administration of its most influential minister and a Wall Street favorite.

A lack of congressional support for Palocci helped hasten his fall. He was replaced by Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, who is also the wife of Communications minister Paulo Bernardo.

Rousseff has focused heavily on technical and administrative matters since being sworn in on January first winning plaudits in some quarters for her diligent approach but stirring discontent in Congress over what some see as a detached attitude.

Coalition partners including the centrist PMDB party have complained of being sidelined on major government initiatives and want more say in the decision-making process.

Rousseff met with Vice-President Michel Temer of the PMDB on Thursday night to discuss the situation, according to local media reports. Temer is indicated as the man who finished pushing Palocci overboard.

Analysts say the meeting and the ministerial shuffle are part of a broader effort by Rousseff to improve ties with the PMDB, the largest party in the ruling coalition.

President Rousseff, a former guerrilla in the early seventies comes from a strictly technical background and although all her life has been involved in politics she never ran for office. Dilma was former president Lula’s personal pick to succeed him.

Political analysts say that with the mini reshuffle President Rousseff has shown she really is in command but in Congress there’s the feeling they would have had a say or at least consulted on the names for chief of staff and the institutional liaison minister.

Nevertheless Ms Salvatti is respected as one of the ‘pack’ for when she supported the influential Senators José Sarney and Renan Calheiros who faced impeachment on corruption allegations. But analysts insist and so does Vice President Temer the president must spend more time relating with members of Congress.



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