Power

Who controls the purse strings in the Brazilian government?

Warring forces in Bolsonaro's government are quarrelling over public spending in a tug-of-war between fiscal responsibility and electoral gains

budget checkbook in the Brazilian government?
Image: Abscent/Shutterstock

The Jair Bolsonaro administration may be going through a defining moment regarding its economic policy. Some of the president’s key advisers — including the government’s military wing — advocate for increasing public spending in order to offset the economic effects of the pandemic and kickstart the economy. This would include major infrastructure projects, as well as social policies — in a clear strategy to make Mr. Bolsonaro’s re-election in 2022 viable.

These advisers are clashing with the government’s pro-austerity branch, headed by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. Since the 2018 campaign, Mr. Guedes has been the “guarantor” of Mr. Bolsonaro’s economic policy — the...

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