Brazil’s Congress on Wednesday re-elected the leaders of both chambers, in a key win for leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s legislative agenda.
Senator Rodrigo Pacheco drew 49 votes out of the 41 he needed to defeat an ally of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro, avoiding a dramatic setback for Lula.
Rogerio Marinho, who was a minister of Bolsonaro’s Cabinet, received 32 votes.
In his speech shortly after the re-election, Pacheco, who during Bolsonaro’s government positioned himself as a defender of democracy and the Brazilian electoral system, repeated that the country needs pacification and that the three branches of government need to work in harmony.
But he stressed that “pacification does not mean omission or leniency.
“Pacification does not mean inflaming the population with untrue narratives or solutions that generate institutional instability. Pacification does not mean remaining silent before anti-democratic acts,” he said, referring to the attacks by Bolsonaro supporters on the headquarters of the Three Branches of Power on January 8.
The win came despite the efforts made by Bolsonaro to back Marinho’s campaign for Senate president. The former president, who has not returned from Florida since his term ended on Jan. 1, spoke by telephone on Monday with a meeting of his party, the Liberal Party (PL).
Control of either chamber by the opposition could have hampered approval of Lula’s priorities, starting with temporary decrees he has signed that extend social welfare payments for poor families and reduce taxes on fuels.
In the lower house, Speaker Arthur Lira of the center-right Popular Party (PP) won his re-election by a wide margin, after having secured the support of Lula’s Workers Party and others in his center-left coalition, along with some of Bolsonaro’s allies.
Lira, who drew 464 votes out of the 257 needed, had previously allied with Bolsonaro, but was quick to recognize Lula’s narrow election victory and congratulate him, starting a constructive dialogue during the presidential transition.
All legislation must pass through Lira’s desk to get started in Congress, including impeachment efforts, which Bolsonaro allies are already planning.