A close ally of Brazilian president Lula da Silva, communist Aldo Rebelo from the PCdoB (Partido Comunista do Brasil) was elected late Wednesday Speaker of the House, a much needed victory for the embattled administration.
Having surpassed the 251 votes demanded to be named Mr. Rebelo defeated the opposition candidate José Thomaz Nonô from the right-leaning Liberal Front Party.
The final count was 257 for communist Rebelo, now the third man in line to the presidency, and Mr. Nonô 243. Only four deputies from a total of 513 did not participate in the crucial vote.
Mr. Rebelo nomination had been openly promoted by President Lula da Silva who managed some breathing space after eight months of political turmoil involving his Workers Party and Congress following the disclosure of extended corruption practices that forced the resignation of his closest advisors and several Deputies.
Mr. Rebelo replaces Severino Cavalcanti, from the conservative PP party and ally of the ruling coalition who resigned his post in the Lower House for having bribed the Congress restaurant contractor.
Accusations have damaged President Lula’s chances of re-election in 2006 and held up a program of economic reforms. "The deputies showed this House is a free House and an independent institution" said newly elected Rebelo.
Lula was quick to congratulate Rebelo, who can limit Congressional investigations of alleged corruption and recommend more lenient sanctions for anyone found guilty.
Critics said that the government had ensured Rebelo received enough votes by releasing public money for projects backed by deputies allied to the Workers’ Party.
Mercopress – www.mercopress.com