BRASÍLIA – At the beginning of his third term, the president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) he stopped prioritizing direct contact with deputies and senators, transferring this responsibility to his ministers. Lula’s little contact with congressmen is evident in comparison with his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro (PL): the PT member met deputies only 13 times from the beginning of the government until mid-October. Senators were received only 8 times, according to the President of the Republic’s public agenda, which totals 21 agendas with parliamentarians. Bolsonaro received deputies on 259 occasions and senators met with him on 90 occasions, totaling 349 agendas.
It is possible to count on one hand the congressmen received by Lula so far, and who appear on the official agenda. The priority is for the presidents of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL) and the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG); in addition to names from the PT itself, such as deputies José Guimarães (CE) and Gleisi Hoffmann (PR) and senator Jaques Wagner (BA). With the exception of this quintet, Lula was only with three other members of the Legislature.
Like Lula, Bolsonaro also prioritized close congressmen, such as former deputies Major Vitor Hugo (PSL-GO), then government leader in the Chamber; and Joice Hasselmann, then leader in Congress. The sons Eduardo and Flávio, with mandates in the Chamber and the Senate, were received 13 and 25 times, respectively. However, the agenda also shows several meetings with party leaders.
The survey of Estadão used data organized by the Transparent Agenda tool of the organization Ficam Sabendo (FS). FS is an organization specialized in access to public information. The survey concerns appointments that occurred up to October 11th, the last date available in the data.
Until now, Lula has tended to prioritize meetings with state ministers – whether in extended meetings, with several cabinet members at the same time, or in individual meetings. The names that appear most often are those of three PT members: the heads of the Secretariat of Institutional Relations, Alexandre Padilha (49 times); of the Civil House, Rui Costa (38); and the Communications Secretariat (Secom), Paulo Pimenta (33). Fernando Haddad (Farm) appears in 19 encounters.
Agendas with foreign heads of state are also an important part of Lula’s routine at the beginning of his third term, both during trips abroad and in Brasília, in receptions and phone calls. The PT member’s agenda lists 62 commitments of this type since the beginning of his term. After assuming his third term, Lula made 25 international trips, at an estimated cost of R$45 million, according to information obtained by the newspaper The globe using the Access to Information Law.
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Planalto says there is ‘regular dialogue’ with deputies and senators
When contacted, the Presidency of the Republic said that Lula has maintained “regular dialogue” with congressmen during meetings, trips and public agendas in which politicians participate. On Tuesday (31), the PT member received leaders from the Chamber benches to install a “coalition political council” – a similar meeting with the heads of the Senate benches is scheduled for this week, according to the Presidency’s Communications Secretariat (Secom). .
In recent days, the president has been telling allies that he intends to participate more actively in his government’s political coordination. Lula wants to meet more with politicians when he has fully recovered from recent surgery on his hip and eyelids, which took place at the end of September.
Political articulation in Planalto is going through a bad phase, especially in the Senate. Last week, the House rejected the name of lawyer Igor Roque, chosen by Lula to head the Federal Public Defender’s Office (DPU), a body that provides legal advice to poor Brazilians. In the Senate plenary, Roque received 38 votes against – which indicates that even senators allied with Planalto voted against his nomination.
Even before Roque’s rejection, the senators had already been sending signals that they were not satisfied with the treatment received from the Palácio do Planalto. At the end of August, the Upper House narrowly approved the new rules proposed by the government for the Fiscal Resources Administration Council (CARF). There were 34 votes in favor and 27 against. CARF is a type of “court” that judges taxpayers’ complaints against the Federal Revenue Service – the changes will allow for an increase in tax collection.
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“What has been said (in Brasília) is that Lula has demonstrated a change in behavior towards Congress. He has delegated this part to his ministers. And these ministers are the ones who have had most of the meetings with congressmen. Even (Fernando) Haddad (from Finance) has played this role, trying to implement the government’s economic agenda. Lula only enters on a few occasions, such as the meeting of this ‘coalition political council’ that we saw this week”, says political analyst Cristiano Noronha, who is vice-president of the consultancy firm Arko Advice.
What has been said (in Brasília) is that Lula has demonstrated a change in behavior towards Congress. He has delegated this part to his ministers”
Cristiano Noronha, vice president of consultancy Arko Advice
Despite the absence of face-to-face meetings with congressmen, Lula has used public agendas to please allies. Mainly trips to the States or launching ceremonies for government programs. “On these trips, he ends up inviting local authorities (and politicians)”, says Cristiano Noronha. Another possible reason for the distance is the fact that the Congress elected in 2022 is more conservative, which would make it more distant from Lula, says the analyst.
Political scientist Sérgio Praça recalls that the beginning of Bolsonaro’s government was marked by the former president’s only important victory in the Legislature: the approval of the Social Security reform, enacted in November 2019. It is possible, he says, that the number of meetings of the president with congressmen reflects the effort made to approve the reform, made through a constitutional amendment.
“In fact, apart from the Social Security reform, which is precisely during this period, the Bolsonaro government does not have a major legislative achievement”, he recalls. “As for the Lula government, it seems to me that after the approval of the tax reform (in the Chamber), it is completely lost, from the point of view of the legislative agenda”, assesses Praça, who is a professor of political science and researcher at FGV CPDOC.
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In addition to saying that Lula has maintained dialogue with congressmen during the events, the Presidency of the Republic also stressed that meetings with deputies and senators are carried out “on an ongoing basis” by Alexandre Padilha, from the Secretariat of Institutional Relations. “In addition, all ministers are advised to maintain dialogue with the elected representatives of parliament, state and municipal governments”, says the Secom text.