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Opinion – Celso Rocha de Barros: Spending money on ‘PEC Fear of Lula’ is what Bolsonaro has left


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Last week, the Senate approved a constitutional amendment that allows Bolsonaro to break the Brazilian state to try to defeat Lula.

With approval, the spending cap, the fiscal responsibility law, the golden rule and everything that controls government spending go to waste.

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The measure, however, is not valid for an indefinite period: when the president returns to the left, any pedaling in the Safra Plan will again be a reason for impeachment.

Spending money is what is left for Jair Bolsonaro, who is far, far behind Lula in the polls.

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To date, there has only been one turning point in the presidential campaign at this time of year: that of 1994, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso made a spectacular start after the implementation of the Real Plan.

As much as his therapist tells him otherwise, Paulo Guedes has never been and will never be able to make a Real Plan. All historians agree that one of the reasons for the success of the Plano Real was precisely that no one called Guedes for help.

Therefore, Bolsonaro’s only hope of turning on Lula is to spend money until he generates a sense of well-being equivalent to that caused by the end of hyperinflation in 1994.

It will be expensive.

Of all the measures approved, the only one that could influence the outcome of the election is the increase in Auxílio Brasil. The beneficiaries of the Aid are a public in which Lula is very strong. Perhaps the aid will help Bolsonaro to close this gap, which could balance the election campaign.

The increase in aid should give Bolsonaro votes, but it is difficult to predict how many. After all, the opponent is Lula.

Lula created Bolsa Família, also known as “Auxílio Brasil before Bolsonaro changed the name of the business to look like he did it”.

Against any other candidate, Bolsonaro could say, “vote for me or the other guy will cut your benefit.” Will this work against Lula, who guaranteed the original benefit?

It is possible, but less certain than it would be against any other opponent.

The other measures of the “PEC Fear of Lula” are an attempt by Bolsonaro to hold on to the vote he already has. Truck drivers and taxi drivers, benefited by the PEC, already tend to vote for Bolsonaro.

Even if the measures help the far-right candidate – they should help – they will not decide the election.

Unless, of course, Bolsonaro counts on truck drivers more for his coup attempt than for the election.

It is very, very bad that the Constitution is amended three months before the election to allow the government to spend money on the campaign. It is a sign of clear institutional deterioration, one of several in recent years.

The precedent is terrible and, rest assured, it will be used by other governments. The little squat on top of the spending ceiling has just become a skyscraper.

It’s been a few months since analysts have not claimed Lula’s victory in the first round because Bolsonaro controls the federal government’s machinery. Situation of the economy, alliances, “lava-jatismo” of 2018, none of this will help Bolsonaro.

There remains the use of the public machine, which usually gives an advantage to those running for reelection. Above all, it remains for Bolsonaro to hope that the electorate does not realize that this is all just for three months.

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