Bolsonaro hints at cabinet reshuffle next week

Senator Ciro Nogueira (center) has worked in the government's favor during the Senate's Covid inquiry. Photo: Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado
Senator Ciro Nogueira (center) has worked in the government’s favor during the Senate’s Covid inquiry. Photo: Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado

During an interview with radio station Jovem Pan this morning, President Jair Bolsonaro admitted that he plans on making a cabinet reshuffle on Monday, amid rumors that Senator Ciro Nogueira could be brought in as Chief of Staff.

Mr. Nogueira is one of the leading names in the right-wing Progressives (PP) party, which currently forms the central pillar of President Bolsonaro’s congressional support base. The potential future Chief of Staff has played a big role in the Senate’s Covid inquiry, seeking to muffle and obstruct investigations into the federal government’s mismanagement of the pandemic crisis.

During his interview this morning, Mr. Bolsonaro denied that his cabinet appointments have been influenced by party-political pressures.

Were he to be drafted in as Chief of Staff, Mr. Nogueira would take the place of Army General Luiz Eduardo Ramos in the cabinet reshuffle, who is expected to move to the General Secretary position, which also works within the president’s office.

In this case, current General Secretary Onyx Lorenzoni — himself a former Chief of Staff — would lose out. However, instead of pushing him out of the government, Mr. Bolsonaro is weighing up recreating the Labor Ministry and handing it to Mr. Lorenzoni.

Presidential aides say that the move would serve to dilute the powers of the Economy Ministry, which absorbed power over labor issues at the beginning of Mr. Bolsonaro’s government.

During his presidential campaign, Mr. Bolsonaro promised to streamline his cabinet and work with a “maximum of 15 ministries.” Recreating the Labor Ministry would bring his government’s total up to 24.