As the dust settles on Sunday’s presidential election, which saw Brazil choose far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro as its 38th president, the attention now shifts to the years ahead. Allies, opponents, analysts, and journalists are all running around behind the scenes to work out the answer to the million-dollar question regarding Mr. Bolsonaro’s election: how will things look in Congress.
Brazil’s political system is such that every president requires broad support in the legislature in order to implement their intended proposals, and Mr. Bolsonaro is likely to require more allies than usual.
The vast majority of the former Army captain’s pledges will require congressional support, with some of his most important proposals (namely the much-discussed pensions and tax reforms) obligating him to amend the Constitution – a grueling process which demands three-fifths of both the Senate and the lower house to vote in his favor. Of his principal campaign promises, only the reorganization of ministries can be enacted by decree.
The early signs are promising for president-elect Bolsonaro. His party, the Social Liberal Party, managed to elect 52 members of Congress to the lower house. This makes it the second-largest force in the House, only behind the Workers’ Party – a stunning result considering that in 2014, the Social Liberal Party managed to elect only one congressman.