The Week Ahead in Brazil #105

1. Politics – Former São Paulo governor João Dória (PSDB) announced the withdrawal of his pre-candidacy for the presidency on Monday (23). (g1)

Senator Simone Tebet (MDB-MS) was confirmed as MDB’s pre-candidate for the presidency of the Republic on Tuesday (24). The Cidadania, another party, had already joined the choice, but PSDB still depends on negotiations to confirm the support. (Estadão)

On Thursday (26), the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) approved one party federation signed between PSDB and Cidadania and another with PSOL and Rede Sustentabilidade. The first federation approved by the TSE was the union between PT, PCdoB and PV. (O Globo)

The new vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies is Lincoln Portela (PL-MG). He was elected by 232 votes to replace federal deputy Marcelo Ramos (PSD-AM). (Correio Braziliense)

The lower house approved on Wednesday (25) the project that limits the collection of ICMS (a state tax) for goods and services related to fuel, natural gas, electricity, communications and public transport. The text still needs to be voted by the Senate, where the States are pressing to block the project. (Agência Câmara de Notícias)

Attorney General Augusto Aras told the Federal Supreme Court (STF) that the pardon granted by President Jair Bolsonaro to federal deputy Daniel Silveira (PTB-RJ) to free him from prison is constitutional, but does not free the congressman from becoming ineligible. (O Globo)

This week, three electoral polls were released. The PoderData survey indicates that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) registered 43% (+1 percentage point) of voting intentions, followed by the current president, Jair Bolsonaro (PL), with 35% (stable). The government is disapproved by 54% (-2pp) of the population and approved by 38% (+2pp). The survey interviewed 3,000 voters by telephone between 22 and 24 May 202. (Poder360)

The Datafolha poll, released on Thursday (26), shows Lula with 48% (+5pp) of voting intentions in the first round, against 27% (+1pp) for Bolsonaro. The previous poll was conducted in March. For 48% (+2pp), the Bolsonaro administration is considered as “bad/worst” and 25% (stable) evaluate the government as “great/good”. The poll interviewed 2,556 voters, in person, between 25 and 26 May 2022.

Finally, the Ipespe survey interviewed 1,000 people by telephone between 23 and 25 May 2022. The survey shows Lula with 45% (+1pp) leading the presidential race, against 34% (+2pp) for Bolsonaro. In evaluating the government, 51% (-1pp) of those interviewed consider the government “bad/worst”, and 31% (-1pp) as “great/good”. The disapproval rate was 60% (-1pp) and the approval rate was 35% (stable)

Here’s a summary of the major electoral polls:

2. Economy – The government’s tax collection reached R$ 195 billion in April. From January to April 2022, the accumulated tax collection reached R$ 743.2 billion, an increase of 11.05% compared to the same period last year. This is the best collection performance since the beginning of the historical series – in 1995 -, both for April and for the four-month period. (Brazil)

The official price index, the Broad Consumer Price Index 15 (IPCA-15), rose 0.59% in May, above the 0.45% average expected by analysts. In the last 12 months, the estimate was 12.04% but came to 12.20%, the highest result since November 2003. (Valor)

The stock of diesel S10, sold at Brazilian gas stations, can ensure the supply of the domestic market for less than 20 days if today the domestic production of the derivative is interrupted and imports are suspended. (Valor)

The National Supplementary Health Agency announced a readjustment of 15.5% for individual health plans. Until now, the highest rate had been applied in 2016, at 13.57%. Last year, the adjustment was negative: – 8.19%. (Valor)

The federal government has authorized the market to capture more than R$ 1.22 billion in debentures encouraged for the financing of basic sanitation works in the country. The amount will benefit actions in Teresina (PI), Rio Claro (SP), six municipalities of the State of Rio de Janeiro and 114 cities of the State of Paraná (Brazil)

3. Public management – The Minister of Mines and Energy (MME), Adolfo Sachsida, has indicated the Special Secretary of Debureaucratization of the Ministry of the Economy, Caio Paes de Andrade, for the position of CEO of Petrobras, replacing José Mauro Coelho. If approved by the company’s board, Paes de Andrade will be the company’s third president in the Bolsonaro government (Estadão).

The Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mathias Cormann, is coming to Brasilia in June and will meet with President Jair Bolsonaro. The visit will be, in practice, a breakthrough in the country’s accession process to the entity. (Valor)

Itamaraty has confirmed that President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) will travel to the United States for the 9th Summit of the Americas, to be held in Los Angeles from 6 to 10 June (Estadão)

An analysis:

1. The political outlook remains positive. The level of institutional conflict remains high but stable. The presidential coalition remains solid but suffered a setback in the election for vice-president in the Chamber of Deputies. The levels of popular support also remain stable. On the electoral side, polls have brought bad news for the government.

On the institutional front, Bolsonaro has reduced the tone and frequency of his criticism of electronic ballot boxes but has continued to criticise the Supreme Court justices. Aras shelved the request Bolsonaro had made to him against Justice Alexandre de Moraes but maintained the presidential pardon granted to Daniel Silveira, who remains ineligible. The episode can be analysed as an accommodation that, besides not raising the temperature of the conflict, was a sign of functioning institutions.

Another situation also showed the limits of the government’s political power. In an attempt to expand its power in the Legislative Branch, the Planalto tried to push an ally loyal to Bolsonaro for the vice-presidency in the House, deputy Vitor Hugo (PL-GO), but did not succeed. It tried again another solution with the former minister of Government Flavia Arruda (PL-DF). At the end of the day, the message is clear: leaders of the PP and PL will not grant additional spaces to Bolsonaro. Other episodes like this, in which Valdemar da Costa Neto’s PL will impose itself, will occur in the course of the 2022 electoral campaign.

Finally, the presidential race. So far, it is clear that Bolsonaro is struggling to break the 35% voting intention barrier, while Lula is advancing to around 45%. The next polls should provide a clearer picture of the effects of João Dória’s withdrawal and the support from businesses that seem to be being built around Simone Tebet. For now, it is only possible to affirm that the third way remains an unviable project.

2. The trend in the economy remains positive for the coming week. The inflation data still came in below expectations and the news of the readjustment in health plans adds weight to the inflationary trend. Nevertheless, fiscal performance continues favourable, with record revenues, and productive investments show vigour amidst the uncertainties.

The government postponed to Monday (30) the disclosure of the April job balance in Caged (General Cadastre for Employed and Unemployed), which was scheduled for Thursday (26).

3. The trend in public management remains neutral. On the one hand, the indication of changing the president of Petrobras looks more negative than positive. An executive from the energy sector is leaving, whose name was easily absorbed by the market, but Paes de Andrade’s name does not belong to the same ecosystem. He is a good manager, but it is exchanging a consolidated name for one that could work out well. From any perspective, these ruptures in the management of Petrobras are bad and show flaws in the decision-making process of the federal government. On the other hand, the government is trying to either keep making random changes or is signalling to the market and voters its persistence in finding an economic solution for the soaring fuel prices. Let’s see what’s coming next.

Bolsonaro seems to have understood the importance of the international agenda for Brazil. The rapprochement with the United States is positive, as is the agenda with the OECD.

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