An Amateur Way of Doing Politics - plus55


Brazil has failed to push for reforms due to the incompetence of its politicians
Brazil Opinion

Brazilian politics has become a rumor mill. While no one quite knows how these rumors begin, they soon go onto become “analyses” with the power of self-fulfilling prophecies. We think things won’t go well, and our reaction to that perception makes things not go well. At least, that has been the current atmosphere in our country. We spend our days speculating about what might happen, who might be next politician to be implicated in corruption affairs. Will President Michel Temer be impeached, just like his predecessor?

The government has tried to remain calm, always playing its poker face. It repeats, to the point of exhaustion, that the worst is behind us, and that a new phase has already begun. Even the President tries to (not so successfully) look more like an ordinary citizen and convince everyone, through less formal rhetoric, that the good times are not far down the road.

Indeed, Michel Temer’s administration has made some strides – undeniably important. It has assembled a competent team to operate the country’s economy and has picked strong names to run the Brazilian National Development Bank and Petrobras. Furthermore, it approved the federal spending cap in the House of Representatives in an attempt to inject some fiscal responsibility into the federal budget. Temer’s nemesis, the Workers’ Party, has been abandoned by voters and will not be the powerful antagonist everyone thought it would.

Everything should be going well – much better than before, at least. But nothing seems good enough for the recovery to begin. No matter what happens, we still have the lingering perception that it could all crumble at any given moment. The country fails to accelerate, and the reforms must continue. The numbers are not good enough; the recovery is barely perceptible. This administration is one-third action, one-third paralysis, and one-third error-prone.

Since Dilma Rousseff was ousted from the presidency, we have seen that the government doesn’t need strong opposition to incur problems. The number of self-inflicted wounds is remarkable, creating a toxic atmosphere for the cabinet.

One of these self-inflicted wounds is the handling of the new educational reform. I’m not going to analyze the changes proposed by the government, but instead how it has proceeded to do so. By attempting to pass a decree without consulting the general population, it has ignited public indignation. Was this the right moment for such a move? Should the government have revived the youth’s impetus to protest? In politics, as in war, having too many battle fronts is a dangerous mistake.

This government clearly lacks coordination.

Operation Car Wash is another variable that brings anguish and depression. Rumor has it that the grounds of the republic will be shaken by a plea bargain made with Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction company, and former Speaker of the House, Eduardo Cunha. Guessing games have begun as to which minister will fall due to corruption allegations.

In this midst of rumors, ridiculous exits to the crisis have been proposed. Congress tried to pass an amnesty to illegal campaign funding. But these quick fixes won’t go unnoticed by voters – it instead reveals just how amateur our politicians can be.

In Congress, there is a group of pragmatic men and women who want to push for the reforms needed in Brazil. Others are paralyzed, too worried about potential jail time. And then there is the group of corrupt congressmen who are raising the prices of their votes.

These errors mean that Brazil is losing the precious time when it would still be able to push for change. The quest to fix a broken country has instead gained the air of a cheap melodrama.