Temer focuses on economy in attempt to remain in office

In the decisive week for new chapters of the crisis — likely to be aggravated by the plea bargain of Rodrigo Rocha Loures and the disclosure of new wiretaps conducted by the Federal Police at the request of the prosecutors’ office — President Michel Temer is doubling down on the economic recovery, and on the lack of a consensus name to replace him, to gain muscle and stay in office. He ordered his economic team to formulate a new “package of kind policies” he intends to announce in coming days.

The Palácio do Planalto, the presidential office, expects to gain time to adopt the measures and accelerate the economic recovery. In this line of action, the timetable outlined by the government includes the labor reform’s passage on June 1st, on the Senate’s floor, and the first vote on the pension reform on the Chamber of Deputies’ floor on June 13.

Aiming to keep the economy producing good news, Mr. Temer ordered new policies with popular appeal from the minister of Planning, Dyogo Oliveira, who worked actively with his team during the weekend. The Office of the Chief of Staff and the government leader in Congress, Senator Romero Jucá (PMDB of Roraima), are also involved in designing the plan.

On another front, Mr. Jucá will command the strategy to vote on labor reform on June 6 on the Senate floor. This plan will entail passing it in the morning in the Economic Affairs Committee and on the same day, in the afternoon, taking it to the floor. To do that, Mr. Jucá will have to get the signature of most leaders of the allied parties in an urgency requirement.

This mechanism suppresses analysis steps at the Social Affairs Committee and at the Constitution and Justice Committee. In the case of the PMDB, Mr. Jucá will face the resistance of leader Renan Calheiros (Alagoas), who advocates a broad discussion of the bill in the thematic committees. On the other hand, he will have the support of the president of the Constitution and Justice Committee, Senator Edison Lobão (PMDB of Maranhão), who has remained faithful to Mr. Temer, at the request of ex-President José Sarney.

In the Chamber of Deputies, the offensive of the governing leaders also targets the economic agenda. The government will try to pass a bill that would allow foreign stake in airlines up to 100%, a from businesses that has been supressed for several years. Another effort will be made at the resumption of talks to try and vote, on June 13, on the pension reform in a first round.

The goal is to show that Mr. Temer maintains political strength in Congress. Presidential aides reject the notion of some leaders, even of the PSDB, that the reforms would go through without Mr. Temer in the presidency. They claim Mr. Temer is the only politician amid the crisis with the necessary skill and ability of political coordination to push through controversial policies in Congress in a situation of turbulence.

One example they recall is the recent vote on the bill to validate tax incentives, which had 405 votes on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies’ last week and untied a legal knot that had persisted for decades.

In the hypothesis of his removal, however, the Planalto’s Plan B is the candidacy of Chamber Speaker Rodrigo Maia (Democrats, DEM, of Rio de Janeiro), in the Electoral College. He is an appealing name for the deputies, who have more votes in the college, because it opens the post of house speaker.

Another name that emerged over the last few days for a potential Congressional in-house election was of Senator Armando Monteiro (Brazilian Labor Party, PTB, of Pernambuco), former minister of Development in the Rousseff administration. A moderate with good positioning in the business world, Mr. Monteiro would be an option to the interim president of the PSDB, Tasso Jereissati, of Ceará.

Source: Valor Econômico