Opinion

Bolsonaro’s gamble on civil servants sparked a public service crisis

President Bolsonaro had pledged raises for all federal public servants, but had to go back on his promise and reserve wage bumps for police officers. Security workers may be pleased, but other federal employees threaten revolt

President Bolsonaro speaks during an event to honor Civil Servants Day, in October 2021. Photo: Anderson Riedel/PR
President Bolsonaro speaks during an event to honor Civil Servants’ Day, in October 2021. Photo: Anderson Riedel/PR

Last November, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro announced that all of the country’s federal civil servants would receive a small pay raise in 2022. “It isn’t what they deserve,” the president declared, “but it’s what we can afford to give them.” However, being announced less than one year before the general elections, Mr. Bolsonaro’s move raised eyebrows.

The opposition questioned the president’s motives, with the chair of the center-left Workers’ Party Gleisi Hoffman calling the pay rise “a political act by someone who has always been against federal employees.” 

Since the president’s promise, however, budgetary realities have set...

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