The Week Ahead in Brazil #103

1. Politics – Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco met with state treasury secretaries on Thursday (12), and once again demanded from Petrobras and representatives of the states new ways to mitigate fuel price increases. (Senate)

On Friday (13), President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), had lunch with businessmen in São Paulo at the residence of the former president of Fiesp (Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo). (Poder360)

The president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Minister Edson Fachin, said on Thursday (12), who handles the elections are “unarmed forces” and that the Electoral Justice will not bend to “whoever”. Later, Bolsonaro said he wanted to clarify that “the Armed Forces are not meddling in the elections”. (Valor)

The latest Quaest poll, conducted from 5 to 8 May 2022, with 2,000 people interviewed in person, shows former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) with 46% (+1 percentage point) of voting intentions in the first round, and President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) with 29% (stable). The poll also shows that 25% of voters evaluate the government positively (-1pp) and 46% (-1pp) negatively.

PoderData released research in which Lula leads voting intentions with 42%, followed by Bolsonaro with 35%. Regarding support ratings, the government is disapproved by 56% (+2pp) of respondents and approved by 36% (-2pp). The poll was conducted between 8 and 10 May 2022, with 3,000 voters by telephone. (Poder360)

The third electoral poll is Ipespe’s, conducted from 9 to 11 May 2022, with 1,000 telephone interviews. Lula leads with 44% (stable) of voting intentions, while Bolsonaro is with 32% (+1pp). On the evaluation of the government, 51% (-1pp) of those interviewed considered the government as “bad or terrible” and 32% as “great or good”. The rates of disapproval of the government have reduced to 60% (-2pp) and those who approve are stable at 35%.

Here is the compilation of the election polls:

2. Economy – The official Brazilian inflation, measured by the Broad National Consumer Price Index (IPCA), reached 1.06% in April, the highest variation for the month since 1996. The accumulated result in 12 months reached 12.13%, the highest rate in 12 months since October 2003 (13.98%). (Valor)

Petrobras announced, on Monday (9), an increase in the average price of diesel by 8.87% in its refineries. The average price of the fuel in the refineries rises from R$ 4.51 to R$ 4.91 per litre. (Folha)

A favourable combination of a greater movement of people, more disposable income and good performance in transportation boosted the volume of services rendered in the country, which rose 1.7% in March compared to February. It was the highest increase for the month of the entire historical series of the survey, which began in 2011. The data were released on Thursday (12), by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). (Valor)

The new Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida, delivered on Thursday (12) to the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, a request to conduct studies for the privatization of Petrobras and PPSA, the state-owned pre-salt company. (g1)

The volume of grain harvested in the 2021/22 harvest should be 271.8 million tons, an increase of 6.4% compared to the previous harvest. The result also shows an increase of 2.5 million tonnes compared to the previous estimate. (Brasil)

The federal government has cut import tariffs on 11 products to curb rising inflation. On the tariff’s cut list are steel rebar, agricultural inputs and food, such as meat, wheat and crackers. (Poder360)

3. Public management – President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) has named Adolfo Sachsida as the new Minister of Mines and Energy, in place of Bento Albuquerque, who was exonerated on Wednesday (11). (Folha)

The AGU (Advocacia Geral da União) presented, on Wednesday (11), a defense of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and his former parliamentary aide Walderice Santos da Conceição, known as “Wal do Açaí”. Both are targets of an administrative improbity lawsuit filed by the MPF (Federal Public Ministry). (Poder360)

The government has started a procedure to receive online contributions from society for the National Mining Plan 2050. The process proposes the collaborative construction of the instrument that will establish the Brazilian mining guidelines and will guide the formulation of public policies over the next 28 years. The deadline for responses closes on May 31. (Brazil)

An analysis:

1. The political trend for the week remains positive. It is not yet possible to say that the level of tension between the Executive and the Legislative has returned to normal, but there was an accommodation on the subject by Bolsonaro. Fachin’s speech was firm. There were no changes in the level of parliamentary support for the government. On approval ratings, the PowerData survey shows a 4 pp increase between those who approve and disapprove of the government, but the other two surveys show either stability or 2 pp of closeness.

The electoral polls brought an important element that deserves analysis. Unlike what had been happening, the average of the polls published so far this month has shown a certain stagnation of the growth that Bolsonaro had been demonstrating in previous months. Bolsonaro oscillated between 29% and 35%, and Lula between 42% and 46%. Part of this may have been due to the attacks on electronic ballot boxes, a system in which the majority of the Brazilian population believes, and partly due to the inflationary effect. Lula, for his part, has moderated his speech and is rebuilding his campaign. Let’s wait for the end of the month to complete the polls’ averages and make a more complete assessment of the trend.

Another prominent issue was the exchange of ministers in charge of the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Some analysts consider that the change was essentially made to have electoral gains. Well, every government change has some electoral effect, especially in an election year, either to improve the performance of the government in any department or to increase political support – both parliamentary and popular. I also don’t think that the change is intended to put the blame on Bento Albuquerque, giving the impression that the President changes those who don’t produce results. If this was the case, the President should have changed Albuquerque a long time ago and could have indicated a politician for the position, in order to facilitate the approval of measures, for example, price control. The fact is that the problem of energy and fuel is complex, but the impact is essentially economic and the main concern of voters is with the economy, especially with inflation. Thus, it seems positive to me to put Sachsida as Minister of Mines and Energy. Whether he will be able to improve the price of gasoline, is not yet possible to know.

2. On the economic side, the positive trend for the week continues. The monetary policy brings good fundamentals, despite the persistently high inflation and the diesel increase. Economic activity is on the rise with the service sector and the good figures for the 2021/2022 harvest. Also worth noting is the issue of reducing import taxes on various products affecting inflation.

3. The trend in public management remains neutral for next week with no major changes. The appointment of the new minister for the MME may be positive in the economic sense of management, but it is still too early to say. The fact that Sachsida has been part of the government’s core since before the election should ease the transition. Another potentially positive aspect is that the new minister is a good communicator of information based on numbers, on facts. I have often attended tough public debates in which he participated and was able to put forward his arguments based on solid analyses.

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