Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made the second key change of the week in her cabinet on Friday, a move aimed at improving strained ties with allies in Congress. Luiz Sergio, the minister responsible for liaising with Congress, resigned from his post,
This followed complaints from Rousseff's allies that Sergio was ineffective in managing relations with the 10-party ruling coalition.
Rousseff picked Fisheries minister Ideli Salvatti, 59, of the ruling Workers' Party, PT, to replace Sergio, while Sergio will assume the job of Fisheries minister, the statement said.
Salvatti is a long-time legislator and former coalition leader in the Senate. She helped found the Workers Party in Santa Catarina her adopted (southern) state, and has since had a very active political life.
“Relations with all political parties will be most respectful, always”, she emphasized following her designation. However, “I’m not always Idelizinha, ‘love and peace’, I will make myself listened also”.
Rousseff's influential chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, stepped down on Tuesday over a personal finance scandal, depriving the administration of its most influential minister and a Wall Street favourite.
A lack of congressional support for Palocci helped hasten his fall. He was replaced by Senator Gleisi Hoffmann (Parana state), who is also the wife of Communications minister Paulo Bernardo.
Rousseff has focused heavily on technical and administrative matters since being sworn in on January first winning plaudits in some quarters for her diligent approach but stirring discontent in Congress over what some see as a detached attitude.
Coalition partners including the centrist PMDB party have complained of being sidelined on major government initiatives and want more say in the decision-making process.
Rousseff met with Vice-President Michel Temer of the PMDB on Thursday night to discuss the situation, according to local media reports. Temer is indicated as the man who finished pushing Palocci over board.
Analysts say the meeting and the ministerial shuffle are part of a broader effort by Rousseff to improve ties with the PMDB, the largest party in the ruling coalition.
President Rousseff, a former guerrilla in the early seventies comes from a strictly technical background and although all her life has been involved in politics she never run for office. Dilma was former president Lula da Silva’s personal pick to succeed him.
Political analysts say that with the mini reshuffle President Rousseff has shown she really is in command but in Congress there’s the feeling they would have had a say or at least consulted on the names for chief of staff (Hoffmann) and the institutional liaison minister.
Nevertheless Ms Salvatti is respected as one of the ‘pack’ for when she supported the influential Senators Jose Sarney and Renan Calheiros who faced impeachment on corruption allegations. But analysts insist (and so does Vice President Temer) the president must spend more time relating with members of Congress.