Bolsonaro’s legislative support hinges on budget handouts

While previous administrations have used pork-barreling to keep members of Congress onside, it appears to be the only way the Bolsonaro government can find support from lawmakers

budget 2022 election
Lawmakers argue during a sitting of the Joint Congressional Budget Committee. Photo: Roque de Sá/SF/CC-BY 4.0

Despite spending 28 years as a congressman, Jair Bolsonaro kicked off his presidency at odds with the Legislative branch — passing the lowest percentage of bills for any head of state fresh from an election. In what is typically a honeymoon period for new presidents, Congress only approved about 30 percent of the government’s proposals in 2019, according to researchers from the State University of Rio de Janeiro. Eventually, though, the president would get the hang of passing legislation — albeit not in the healthiest of ways.

Elected without a coalition, Mr. Bolsonaro joined forces with the “Big...

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