Brazilian Senator Gleisi Helena Hoffmann, 45, wife of Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo has been chosen by President Dilma Rousseff to replace outcast Antonio Palocci as chief of staff.
The move, which surprised the political system, is seen as the first truly Dilma personal and direct nomination since most of her cabinet is a continuation from the Lula da Silva administration, and the new chief of staff will then be full soldier of the president.
Belonging to a family of German origin, Ms Hoffmann is Senator for the southern state of Parana, studied Law and Government Financial Management and joined the Workers party in 1989. She held a cabinet post in the State of Matto Grosso do Sul and in 2002 was part of the transition team of President Lula da Silva.
Ms Hoffmann was named Brazilian financial representative at the huge Itaipú dam complex, shared with Paraguay, and in 2006 run for a Senate bench but lost. In 2008 she became chairperson of the Workers Party in the state of Parana and in 2010 was elected Senator for her state with the most votes.
“A Lula da Silva man steps down and a Dilma woman moves in”, is how a Brazilian political columnist described the situation, even when President Rousseff had an ‘excessive dependency’ on Palocci for most major decisions.
“Dilma is betting Gleisi will play the same role the president exercised as cabinet chief of Lula da Silva; not even in her wildest dreams could Gleisi have imagined the post of such importance as chief of staff”.
According to a presidential advisor, “now in fact begins Dilma’s government, with someone who owes her and only her, the nomination for the post that implements government programs”.
However the simple change will not solve the problems that the Rousseff administration has been piling up in such a short time (five months). The inner circle hopes the president has learnt from the Palocci crisis that was considered the administration’s most articulate communicator with the political and business worlds.
“Dilma overloaded Palocci”. The president wanted Palocci present at all meetings, and his opinion in all decisions to be made which ended neutralizing her main minister since Palocci had less time to meet with politicians, congress members and business leaders. This only aggravated his personal stance with the Workers Party main ally in the ruling coalition, the PMDB, which has never been particularly cordial.
“When Palocci’s personal finances crisis exploded, he was debilitated before the political system and specifically with his own Workers Party that let him on his own in the midst of the turmoil making things worse”.
Finally the President needs to look back at the incident and according to her close aides “must change her attitude: show more care for allies; hold more meetings with members of Congress and learn to contain her furies and not let them out on her staff”.
“If not, one day she may be the direct impact of a crisis and will have to live through the same solitude experienced by her former chief of staff”, concludes Folha de Sao Paulo.