Constantly mentioned as a prominent name in the electoral campaign of the then candidate Jair Bolsonaro (former PSL and today PL) in 2018, in which he became known by the nickname “Posto Ipiranga”, the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, has been erased from mentions. of the Chief Executive in the midst of speeches and agendas aimed at the October elections of this year.
What drew attention in this scenario, for example, was the absence of Guedes from Bolsonaro’s platform when the ticket was officially launched by the PL, on the 24th, in Rio de Janeiro (RJ). The minister did not attend the event, whose stage was marked by the presence of leaders from the center.
A survey carried out by the portal Power 360 compared the president’s speech at this year’s PL event with the rhetoric adopted when Bolsonaro launched himself as a candidate for the Planalto in 2018. Guedes was among the most cited names four years ago, but in 2022, the predominance was for political figures such as the deputy and former Minister of Agriculture in his government, Tereza Cristina (PP-MS), an important figure in the ruralist bench, and for the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), one of the main leaders of the center.
For deputy Alice Portugal (PCdoB-BA), it is not possible to separate the failure and disappearance of Guedes from the rise of the centrão, a liberal right-wing group that has a majority in Congress and controls the so-called “secret budget”. The parliamentarian understands that the political muscle that the segment has acquired in recent years helped to reduce the power and influence of the Minister of Economy with the President of the Republic.
“It is a government that is outsourced in the hands of a physiological sector that tries to keep the government in order to continue ruling, but, objectively, the trend is a demonstration process that is carried out with short-term policies that do not solve the population’s problem, and the government was demoralized.
The minister lost prestige amidst the set of problems that today mark the national socioeconomic scenario. Particularly noteworthy are the historical rates of unemployment, the lack of control over inflation, the growth of poverty among the less favored income brackets and the country’s return to the so-called “Hunger Map”, prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Faced with a galloping socioeconomic crisis, Guedes was left with the antipathy of different sectors of the economy.
The minister also began to annoy neoliberal groups that expected a more in-depth agenda from the point of view of this economic model. This gradually increased the discredit of the representative in segments such as the financial market, for example.
Among other things, the then “Posto Ipiranga” of 2018 had committed to approving structural reforms, such as the tax, but the agenda still did not have enough oxygen to go through the legislative process and stalled in Congress.
“Guedes is not a politically skilled minister. He doesn’t know how to deal with that central game, the National Congress. He is not a technically competent economist, even admitting the neoliberal premises”, observes professor Francisco Tavares, from the Federal University of Goiás (UFG), who is dedicated to topics such as fiscal sociology, among others.
The minister had also said in 2018 that he would sell all state-owned companies in the country. However, to the delight of opponents and segments of civil society in the progressive camp, the government was unable to advance in the booklet beyond the privatization of Eletrobras, which was completed in June this year at a mere BRL 33.7 billion.
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“Despite the fact that no significant privatizations have taken place, the State has not invested either. The public investment rate in Brazil is one of the lowest ever in our Republic”, adds Tavares.
Professor Frederico Gonzaga Jayme, from the Faculty of Economics of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), also assesses the government’s poor performance in other aspects: “From an economic point of view, Paulo Guedes was unable to deliver absolutely nothing in minimally social terms. . From the point of view of the interests of big capital, there was the Social Security reform, for example, but it was not he who delivered it, but Congress”, he recalls.
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Francisco Tavares points out that the Minister of Economy also failed to deliver to Bolsonaro himself provisional electorally advantageous results and short-term measures. that could propel the government even under the maintenance of the neoliberal prescription.
“In this sense, there is no longer any advantage for Bolsonaro in using that name. He [o presidente] manages to conquer the unproductive large estate by itself, for example, and does not need a figure who is politically clumsy and technically incompetent”, evaluates the UFG professor.
Guedes’ journey in government was also marked by episodes such as the stampede that took place at the ministry in October last year, when Bruno Funchal and Jeferson Bittencourt, then special secretary of the Treasury and Budget and secretary of the National Treasury, respectively, asked to be removed from their posts.
The assistant secretary of the Treasury and Budget, Gildenora Dantas, and the assistant secretary of the National Treasury, Rafael Araújo, took the same tram, who also resigned. Although the four officially claimed personal motivations, the initiative was associated with the group’s dissatisfaction with the country’s fiscal mismanagement. The issue was already being pointed out behind the scenes as one of the main points of discontent of the team with the management.
Professor Frederico Gonzaga Jayme highlights the negative weight that Guedes’ policies have had on the national scene in recent times and describes the management as “disastrous” in aspects such as inflation, public policies and growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Nothing went right from the economic point of view, so nothing more reasonable than for Bolsonaro to leave Paulo Guedes aside in this election, who did not give the expected return, because, obviously, a far-right government would need some support. return that would give the government a veneer of reason, but none of that happened”.
Jayme also makes a connection between Guedes’s overshadowing and the policies identified as electoral voters that the administration has used in this moment that precedes the October election. This is the case of increasing Auxílio Brasil installments from R$400 to R$600, increasing the value of the gas voucher and creating a specific benefit for taxi drivers, all of which are valid until the end of the year.
“With very low popularity, it is time for him to try to make some kind of policy to increase public spending in an unusual way in the structure of the current rules, including the Fiscal Responsibility Law, to try to reverse this situation. This totally goes against everything Guedes proposes, so, strategically, it’s better for him to try to keep him even further away.”
Editing: Rodrigo Durao Coelho