One of the smallest parties from the Brazilian ruling coalition has stepped down with “no hard feelings” and will now adopt a ‘critical support’ attitude towards the administration of President Dilma Rousseff.
The announcement was done Tuesday by Lincoln Portela, member of the Lower House and follows the recent resignation of lawmaker and former Minister of Transport Alfredo Nascimento who was forced out on repeated allegations of corruption involving contracts awarded by his office.
The Party of the Republic, PR, has eight out of 81 Senators and 40 seats in the Lower House of 513 representatives. The ruling coalition now brings together ten parties.
Portela and Nascimento stated that all the government posts held by PR members are now at the disposal of President Rousseff but if they are invited to remain and wish to do so, they are free to adopt such a decision. This has been interpreted as a support message for the new Transport Minister, Paulo Sergio Passos, a PR bureaucrat who had stated he would remain even if his party left the coalition.
“No matter the institutional relation of our party with the coalition, if Brazil needs members of our grouping they can remain and help”, said Nascimento who added that regarding voting in Congress from now on. “PR will decide no matter what is the recommendation or expectation from the Executive, which we will decide whether to support or not, on each occasion”.
Senator Romero Juca head of the Workers Party grouping said that the PR decision must be respected but brushed aside suggestions it might mean problems for the government, which continues to have an ample majority in both houses of Congress.
Nevertheless “we are sure that given the empathy between the rank and file of the PR and the rest of the coalition, we believe they will always support us whenever it is needed”.
Regarding Minister Passos, the new head of Transport, Senator Humberto Costa who is also the spokesperson for President Rousseff’s coalition in Congress, said “he has the all the trust and support from the president”, so there are no doubts about him remaining in the post.
Minister Passos and the head of Agriculture Wagner Rossie were summoned to Congress to explain the corruption allegations in both ministries. In the case of Transport several aides to the former minister are under judicial investigation and in Agriculture, Rossi had to respond to cases of nepotism and staff contracts.
Earlier in the week, President Rousseff whose eight month government has seen several ministers and advisors step down or resign promised she would do her best to end with corruption and impunity.
“It is my duty as President of all Brazilians to see an end to the impunity which shelters many of those accused of involvement in corruption practices”, said the President. “We will punish all abuses and excesses”.
Ms Rousseff added that Brazil was a country of “honourable people, reliable who live off their work and effort and who despise illegality. We must support them and we will support them”
The latest corruption scandal involves the Ministry of Tourism with the Deputy Minister and 35 other members of his staff in jail for alleged participation in a major fraud with government funds.
Tourism minister Pedro Novais was summoned to the Lower House to explain the latest events.
President Rousseff’s “ethical cleansing” campaign against corruption received strong support from a group of Senators both from the ruling coalition and the opposition.
“The President must know she counts with a congressional base of support and defence not of her government but of Brazil, because as long as corruption exists, the country will not be successful”, said opposition Senator Randolfe Rodrigues.
A public opinion poll released Tuesday showed support for President Rousseff and her performance remains at a strong 70.2%, while 49.2% consider her administration “excellent” or “good”.
The Sensus poll was contracted by the National Transport Confederation, CNT and is the first Sensus evaluation of Rousseff and her government.
Results are similar to those of Ibope from last week that gave the president a personal support of 67% and 48% for her government.
Regarding the recent ministerial cases of corruption the poll showed that 62.9% of interviews believe it will not have an impact on the head of government while 25.7% say it will harm her popularity and support.
Finally 79.2% approve the way the Rousseff administration is addressing the world crisis and only 13% feel she’s on the wrong track.
The poll interviewed 2.000 people in 136 towns in all Brazilian statesl from August 7 to 12 with a plus/minus 2.2% margin of error.