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PT and allies see clumsy negotiation of the PEC and demand definition of Minister of Articulation


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Members of the PT and parties allied to president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) criticize the conduct of the negotiation to approve the PEC (proposed amendment to the Constitution) of the Transition in Congress and demand that the PT quickly announce a minister with credentials to honor political commitments.

The evaluation among parliamentarians from acronyms such as PL, PSD and Lula’s supporters is that the indication of who will be responsible for the political articulation of the future Planalto Palace would increase the chances of approval of the proposal.

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The indication of who will command the Treasury would serve the same purpose, but, as Lula has already signaled that he does not want to rush into this definition or make the choice by “pressure”, parliamentarians began to demand the name of the one with whom they will talk on a day-to-day basis.

The function is now held by the Government Secretariat and, in PT governments, it was exercised by the Minister of Political Articulation.

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Even at the top of the party, the diagnosis is that political negotiations are diffuse, which makes it difficult to dialogue in Congress and build a political base to approve the PEC. Approval of the text, which makes room for expenses such as Bolsa Família, for example, is necessary for Lula to fulfill campaign promises.

People close to the PT say, however, that it is not yet possible to know when Lula will announce the head of the political articulation, as this definition depends on the arrangement for distribution of portfolios between parties that want to be part of the elected government.

The former governor of Piauí and senator-elect Wellington Dias (PT), together with the vice-president-elect Geraldo Alckmin (PSB), was highlighted in the first week after the election to negotiate with Congress and open fiscal space for the measures that Lula want to encamp.

But there was criticism for the fact that the general rapporteur for the 2023 budget, Marcelo Castro (MDB-PI), was sought out to combine a text even before PT members had conversations with the mayors, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), and from the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG).

In addition, there is a reading among congressmen that, however much Dias and other PT parliamentarians negotiate the terms of the agreement, there is no certainty that any of them will sit in the minister’s chair to ensure commitments that may be signed in the negotiation.

This charge comes especially from parliamentarians who were not re-elected and want guarantees that sealed agreements will now be fulfilled after Lula takes office. There is criticism for the absence of who would effectively give face to the Lula government.

Aware of the dissatisfactions, the PT set up a provisional articulation office, with the presence of deputies and senators from the party.

This Tuesday (22), petistas took advantage of the high quorum in the Senate and set up a task force in plenary to negotiate the PEC. Dias spent more than two hours at the site talking to the senators, while the other parliamentarians in the house were instructed to talk to all colleagues with whom they have a good relationship.

A member of the base of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) privately stated that the senators are adrift. According to him, the current government has no articulation since Lula’s victory, and the future government “only talks in the bubble”.

PT senators heard similar comments during this Tuesday’s plenary session. One of them recognized that the construction of the PEC sent the message that the PT was “closed in hearts”, and said that it is necessary to reinforce the participation of senators who are not from the PT, but are in the allied base, such as Alexandre Silveira from Minas Gerais ( PSD-MG).

Senator Jaques Wagner (PT-BA), who gets along well with center parties, has also been asked to help reinforce political articulation.

Reports of dissatisfaction spread among benches of parties that could potentially vote in favor of the PEC, such as Podemos and also União Brasil.

Even Senator Renan Calheiros (MDB-AL), Lula’s longtime ally, has openly criticized the situation. “I don’t think that the PEC that is being proposed and discussed is the only way forward. This anticipates wear and tear and is not good for the circumstances we are experiencing.”

This Wednesday (23) Lula’s transition team will hold a meeting with allied parties, but there is still no date for an eventual meeting with parties from another political field.

The acting president of the PP, deputy Cláudio Cajado (BA), has already said that he would meet with the transition team to discuss the PEC. He, however, had not been contacted by Lula’s allies until this Tuesday. “So far no one has contacted me,” he said.

The national president of the PT, Gleisi Hoffmann, is responsible for the political coordination of the transition. She said she intends to seek out all parties represented in Congress, but that has yet to be done.

As soon as the transition team hit the hammer on the presentation of a PEC, Gleisi had conversations with MDB, PSD and União Brasil to sew the support of these parties.

Shortly afterwards, the president’s agenda began to include consecutive meetings at the CCBB (Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil), headquarters of the transition, and political articulation was scattered among elected and re-elected parliamentarians.

PT members recognize that the political articulation has had a little professionalized performance. However, they claim that it is difficult to consolidate an area like this while the elected government is still in transition.

Other senators, such as the leader of the Bolsonaro government, Carlos Portinho (PL-RJ), have also been demanding the presentation of the text of the PEC —aware of the criticism that the proposal had been constructed only between the transition team and the budget rapporteur, the elected government submitted only one draft.

The version presented last week to the National Congress provides for the withdrawal of Bolsa Família from the scope of the spending ceiling and the possibility of making investments outside the limit. Although the PEC does not bring any explicit value in its text, the PT estimates point to an expense of up to R$ 198 billion.

Of this amount, R$ 175 billion would go towards paying the minimum benefit of R$ 600 to Bolsa Família beneficiaries and to finance the extra installment of R$ 150 per child up to six years old. Another R$ 23 billion would go to public investments.

The size of the extra expenditure has alarmed the financial market, which criticizes the fiscal expansion and sees in the PEC a risk to the trajectory of Brazil’s public debt.

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