Brazil Economic Reform Backer Re-Elected Lower House Speaker

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s pro-business agenda received a boost with the re-election of the lower house’s current speaker, a first step in a long haul to approve reforms demanded by investors.

Rodrigo Maia of the DEM party Friday won a third consecutive term as lower house president with 334 of 513 possible votes. Over in the upper chamber, Renan Calheiros of the MDB party, the country’s largest, is seeking the office once again. Senators suspended debate and deliberations late Friday and will resume Saturday at 11 a.m. local time.

Brazil Economic Reform Backer Re-Elected Lower House Speaker

Brazil’s lower house and Senate speakers wield considerable influence, including the power to decide which bills are voted and when. While the result in the chamber of deputies is not entirely surprising, the outcome in the Senate is far from certain. Calheiros, a veteran politician who has led the Senate four times, is seen by many colleagues as out of step with the wave of renewal that swept through Congress in last October’s election.

Maia, a trained economist who worked briefly in banking before turning to politics, has said he’s capable of approving contentious reforms including the pension overhaul. While Maia wasn’t officially backed by Bolsonaro, he was endorsed by the president’s PSL party together with roughly a dozen others.

Bolsonaro’s most immediate challenge is forging a working majority in a Congress with some 30 parties, of which his own has only 4 out of 81 Senate seats. While several parties have ensured the government their support, Bolsonaro has no formal coalition to count on.
A pension reform much-awaited by investors stands a 30 percent chance of not being approved, according to Eurasia.

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