news: BRAZIL

Political blow for Lula

Brazil’s President suffered a significant political setback at the weekend with the withdrawal of two parties from his governing coalition. The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party voted to end its two-year alliance with the president’s Workers’ Party. The decision came a day after the Popular Socialist Party also decided to break with the government. President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been left weakened at an important time, trying to push his reform agenda through Brazil’s parliament.

President Lula could have lived with the desertion of the Popular Socialist Party but losing the much larger Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) is far more serious. It runs more local councils than any other party in Brazil and, in parliament, only Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) has more lawmakers.

PMDB members voted by a large majority to cut links with the government. They also voted to field their own candidate to run for president in two years’ time, rather than give their backing to Lula when he seeks re-election. Their main criticism of the president was that so far he failed to deliver on his social policy.

It looks as if Lula has lost an important partner and, with key votes ahead on financial and judicial reform, the arithmetic for the government is suddenly looking very complicated.