Brazil president-elect Jair Bolsonaro backtracked on some of his more controversial pledges promising to expand trade with China and rethink the idea of moving the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Bolsonaro is currently in Brasilia for various meetings with senior officials and transition arrangements.
On China a country the president-elect has long regarded with suspicion, he said he wanted to expand trade. China has become Brazil's leading trading partner. In response to a question about his plans to move Brazil's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Bolsonaro said that it was not a point of honor.
While the former Army captain said the military would have a key role in his government, he also reiterated his commitment to the rule of law. The only guide for democracy is the constitution, he told Congress during a ceremony commemorating 30 years of Brazil’s basic law.
In contrast to the election campaign when he skirted issues such as unpopular belt-tightening measures, the president-elect raised the issue of needing to cut back on pension spending. Bolsonaro said that he would like to get a bill to cut pension spending approved in Congress this year, and that establishing a minimum retirement age of 62 could be an option.
We’d like to get something done on pensions, he said. It’s not what we or the economic team would want, it’s what we can get through the House and the Senate.
Meanwhile, Paulo Guedes, Bolsonaro’s designated finance minister, said approving a pension bill would be a nice conclusion to Temer’s administration. Guedes met with current Finance Minister Eduardo Guardia, while Bolsonaro met with the heads of the Brazilian Armed Forces.
Much of Bolsonaro’s future success hinges on his relationship with Brazil’s fractious Congress. The former Army Captain will have to muster lawmaker support to approve his reform agenda, which includes an overhaul of the country’s bloated social security system and a measure that would grant the central bank formal independence.
To accomplish his goals, Bolsonaro’s administration will have to forge agreements with a highly fragmented Congress. The lower house alone has 513 members of which only 52 hail from Bolsonaro’s PSL party. Meanwhile, the opposition Workers’ Party of former President Lula da Silva is the largest in the Chamber of Deputies.