Gen­er­als loom large in Brazil’s cabi­net

Gulf News - - World -

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.

Likely picks

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.

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