Generals loom large in Brazil’s cabinet
Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro is likely to tap army generals and an ultra-freemarket economist for key roles in his cabinet.
The former army captain styles himself as an outsider — even though he has spent a long career in Congress — and has mostly sought prospective ministers with little political experience.
Bolsonaro, 63, wants to slash the number of ministries from 29 to 15, and has vowed to end the practice of using cabinet appointments as bargaining chips to build a coalition with other parties — long a basic rule of the political game in Brazil.
“He wants to reinvent the way the country is governed by ending the ‘presidency by coalition.’ It will be his biggest challenge,” said Marcos Coimbra, a political strategist at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Brasilia.
One of the likely picks to run Latin America’s largest country and the world’s eighth-largest economy when Bolsonaro takes office on January 1 is Paulo Guedes, a liberal economist trained at the University of Chicago — long the high cathedral of free-market economics.
He has been a popular pick with the business sector, ensuring that the markets welcomed Bolsonaro’s march to the presidency with a surge.
Bolsonaro himself has confessed he understands “nothing” about economics, and says he will name Guedes, 69, to head a “super-ministry” bringing together the current ministries of finance, trade and planning, plus the secretariat for public investment.
The one experienced political operative in the line-up is Onyx Lorenzoni, tipped to be named chief of staff — responsible for navigating the lion’s den of politics in Brasilia.
“He has extensive experience in Congress, he knows how it operates,” said Coimbra.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro is a gushing admirer of Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, his military academy instructor in the 1970s and probable defence minister.