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The cinematography of the Brazilian pension reform

To try to understand the current scenario, first you have to bear in mind that this discussion about the overhaul of the pension system cannot be analysed as a photo but as a long movie. It means that you cannot see the big picture based on a still image that newspaper headlines produce on any day.

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From Brasília, by Erich Decat

During the last three weeks, we have seen a political turmoil in the debate over the Brazilian pension reform. I assure you it's just the beginning.

Anyhow, to try to understand the current scenario, first you have to bear in mind that this discussion about the overhaul of the pension system cannot be analysed as a photo but as a long movie.

It means that you cannot see the big picture based on a still image that newspaper headlines produce on any day.

To help you understand why, let me give you some context and examples.

1) Four weeks ago, before the Brazilian Carnival, the congressmen’s mood was terrible. Even an occasional visitor to the Lower House or the Senate could feel the disappointment in the complaints made by the main parties’ leaders. What they were unhappy about was that president Jair Bolsonaro and the head of his government hadn’t given any attention to the congressmen and worse, the president was true to his electoral rhetoric critical of politicians. At this point, if the pension reform had been put to vote, the setback for the government could have been enormous.

2) Then, after the Brazilian Carnival, the government started to listen to some sections of the Congress and began to meet the demands of some of them. They asked for public office mostly. This kind of negotiation is common in Brazil. Normally, the government gives a post to a lawmaker in exchange for support for some proposals.

If you had taken a snapshot on one of these days, you would have noticed that the political environment was changing and turning less tense. So, at this moment, if the pension reform had been put to vote, it could have passed.

However, two days after this photo, a crisis between the Congress and the government started emerging, which hasn't been seen before. 

Why?

The root of the turmoil was that the chairmen of the main parties discovered that they had been bypassed in the negotiation of public offices. This started a public argument between the speaker of the Lower House, Rodrigo Maia, and Jair Bolsonaro.  There were other political ingredients mixed into the conflict too. However, the main reason was the strong reaction from the chairmen behind the scenes. At this moment, if the pension reform had been put to vote, the setback for the government could have been enormous.

3) With this political showdown underway, Bolsonaro finally decided to invite the chairmen and held a meeting with them last week. The result: after the “rendezvous” the politicians went to social media and posted in favour of the government and the pension reform.

As we could see, any single still image of the political landscape would be useless in predicting the outcome of the debate on the pension reform. It has to be followed as a movie.

The meeting between Bolsonaro and the politicians was an important step towards building a majority in Congress to pass the reform.

However, it was just the first step. The government coalition has only started to be built. There is a long way until the final scene. Today, I’m hopeful about the future of the pension reform. There is room to advance on it. Anyhow, the ball is still in Bolsonaro’s court!

Proofread by Akos Gerold

Importante: os comentários e opiniões contidos neste texto são responsabilidade do autor e não necessariamente refletem a opinião do InfoMoney ou de seus controladores.

 

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Erich Decat

atua há 10 anos na cobertura política diária em Brasília, passando por veículos como Blog do Noblat/OGlobo, Correio Brasiliense, Folha de S.Paulo. De 2013 até 2017 trabalhou na editoria de política do Jornal Estado de S.Paulo. erich.decat@xpi.com.br

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Paulo Gama

Trabalhou 8 anos na editoria de política da Folha de S.Paulo. sendo 4 anos na coluna Painel. Venceu o Prêmio Folha de Reportagem em 2016 com série que mostrou atuação de ministro de Michel Temer em defesa de interesses privados no governo. paulo.gama@xpi.com.br

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Richard Back

Analista político da XP Investimentos. Atua na área política desde 2004, com nove anos em Brasília. Nos últimos cinco anos passou pela assessoria de importantes lideranças partidárias na Câmara dos Deputados. richard.back@gmail.com

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Victor Scalet

Faz análise de política com enfoque quantitativo na XP investimentos. Foi economista na BNP Paribas Asset Management por 6 anos. É mestre em economia pelo INSPER e atualmente cursa doutorado.

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