With pension sector reforms dropped, President Michel Temer has been returning to the security theme at every opportunity. This included the ceremonial announcement of a new BRL42 billion (US$12.9 billion) credit facility that is available through the Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) national development bank. Financial resources supposedly earmarked for security will also be released from their contingency clauses, according to General Walter Souza Braga Netto who is now in charge of Rio’s security.
The decision to deploy the armed forces to control violence and improve overall security in Rio de Janeiro State has attracted strong local and national support. Aware of this, Congress’ Deputies were swift to approve the intervention decree by 340 votes to 72. An Instituto Brasileiro de Opinião Pública e Estatística (IBOPE) survey — carried out soon after the announcement of the army intervention — found an 83% approval rating for the measures.
The president did not seem embarrassed when his public relations consultant, Elsinho Mouco, started floating the idea of Temer’s presidential candidacy, although he was subsequently forced to retreat slightly by explaining that Mouco was expressing a personal opinion.
Critics remembered that when Temer took over from the impeached president Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) in August 2016 he had given repeated assurances that he was not interested in running for president, and would focus on tough economic reforms rather than election campaigns.
Temer is usually notable for his cautious approach to politics, and courting his candidacy in this way annoyed allies as well as enemies, including possible presidential candidates such as Chamber of Deputies speaker Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ).
Some scrambled to reinforce the public security policy aspects of their own campaign preparations. São Paulo State governor Geraldo Alckmin strengthened security on the state border with Rio, and the Partido Socialista Brasileiro’s (PSB) Ciro Gomes accused both Temer and Alckmin of exploiting the security issue for political gain.
Transferring votes to a favoured candidate probably represents Temer’s most likely option, but so far this has been stymied by coalition infighting and high levels of rejection for the mooted coalition candidates. The most likely choice for a Temer-backed candidate remains Geraldo Alckmin or Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles.
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