Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Rousseff’s New Cabinet Picks Tasked with Handling Coalition

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on June 15, 2011

by Roque Planas For Americas Society/Council of the Americas, June 14, 2011.

Keeping a coherent governing coalition together in Brazil is not easy. The country boasts 27 officially inscribed political parties, making it difficult for any one to come out on top. With the resignation of her Chief-of-Staff Antonio Palocci over allegations of ethics violations, Dilma Rousseff’s job of keeping the 15 parties in her coalition on the same page just got harder. The task now falls to Gleisi Hoffmann and Ideli Salvatti, whose diplomatic skills have yet to be tested on such a scale.

A towering political figure, Palocci began his political career as a far leftist and helped found the governing Workers Party (PT) in 1980. As he ascended politically, however, he grew closer to Brazil’s private sector, first as treasury minister under the Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva administration and then as a congressman from 2006 to 2010. Palocci became one of the few major PT figures to weather the “mensalão” scandal of 2005, in which high-ranking PT officials were accused of paying monthly salaries to minor legislators to support the Lula administration’s congressional agenda. But Palocci resigned on June 7, after the A Folha de São Paulo revealed he had multiplied his assets 20 times and purchased luxury properties between 2006 and 2010 through his consultancy.

Losing Palocci created a vacuum. According to The Economist, the president recruited Palocci into her administration “to act as the political enforcer to keep Rousseff’s unwieldy coalition in line.” He accomplished that goal partly by usurping the role of congressional liaison. So when Rousseff accepted his resignation, she also accepted that of Luiz Sérgio, head of Institutional Relations, the ministry charged with coordinating relations between the executive and Congress. He was widely considered ineffective at managing the differences among the governing coalition.  (continue reading… )

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