President Bolsonaro’s political future depends on who becomes speaker of the lower house
Brazil’s Congress began voting on Monday to elect the speakers of the upper and lower houses of the legislature, in what could be a test for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose political future hangs in the balance.
Bolsonaro has been personally involved in the political struggle to elect leaders in both houses of the legislature, seeking to improve his uneasy relationship with Congress and prevent 61 impeachment requests.
The speakers of the Senate and House of Deputies, who are elected by their peers to two-year terms, are key figures in Brazilian politics and have the power to decide what legislation is voted on. The speaker of the lower house also has the power to accept or defer motions of impeachment against the president.
Bolsonaro has formed an alliance with a coalition known as Central, or “big center,” a loose coalition of parties whose priority has traditionally been gaining access to government positions.
The Senate elected Rodrigo Pacheco, who is close to the Brazilian leader, as a speaker. In the lower house, the situation is different: Bolsonaro’s candidate, Arthur Lira, is opposed by seven other candidates. The main challenge comes from Baleia Rossi of the Brazilian Democratic Movement, a candidate supported by the current speaker of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia.
The voting process for speaker in the lower house could stretch into the early hours of Tuesday morning.