With Centrão, Bolsonaro aims at Petrobras to reposition electoral game

Gasoline and diesel price are displayed near a gas station following the announcement of updated fuel prices at the Brazilian oil company Petrobras in Brasilia, Brazil June 17, 2022. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Like a certain German leader, Jair Bolsonaro has declared war on many fronts and is in danger of leaving his territory unguarded.

At one end, the plan to smear the election with daily attacks, now outsourced to the weapons of its Defense Minister, is continuing with a thousand plans against the electoral system and the opponents who will be on the other side of the electronic ballot. It is also a fight against 73% who trust the current voting model.

But for the president, it is not enough to just invade France, it is also necessary to attack Russia.

On this other front, the enemy of the moment is Petrobras (read the market and its shareholders). The state-owned company has just announced a new increase in fuel prices, giving the spark that could cause an explosion in the barrel of dissatisfaction that Bolsonaro so fears.

The captain had already changed the minister of Mines and Energy and announced the beheading of the president of Petrobras. José Mauro Coelho barely warmed up the seat. He became a buffer waiting for the company’s board meeting or some other obsession that would distract from the presidential goal.

He returned to the crosshairs after the readjustment. Under pressure, he resigned just over two months after his appointment.

Bolsonaro is now betting on Caio Paes de Andrade, who does not have the credentials to assume the post. He lacks a curriculum and, mainly, a minimum period of experience in leadership positions to take on such a bomb.

These requirements are provided for in the State-Owned Companies Law, approved in 2016, still under Michel Temer, as a response to the abuses at Petrobras identified during Lava Jato. Until then, it was common for political appointees to set up real fiefdoms in the state-owned company from which they extracted power and public money.

The PP (Progressive Party), former legend of Paulo Maluf and Jair Bolsonaro, was one of them. Former supply director Paulo Roberto Costa was a party nominee. Arrested and denounced, he became one of the first whistleblowers in the scheme.

Unlike the attacks on the polls, the firecrackers fired by Bolsonaro against Petrobras are in line with those of Arthur Lira, mayor and one of the main chiefs of the PP – alongside the Civil House minister, Ciro Nogueira.

That’s why this war is more likely to advance behind enemy lines.

Lira has already said out loud that one of her targets is the law on state-owned companies. Precisely the one that prevents political appointments and other arrangements that should have been buried in 2016. Deboning the current rules would represent a triumphant return of his party and his gang, now under new management, to the top of the company.

Ah, yes: in the background there is a supposed scolding with the price of fuel.

This is what, in theory, mobilizes Bolsonaro in his attacks on the leaders he himself chose not so long ago. If the announced changes will be enough to change the current pricing policy, also instituted in the Temer government, there are already another 500.

But, also unlike his obsession with the polls, which distances rather than brings voters together, especially the so-called moderates, this new front can reposition the president as a popular/populist leader, disgusted with the profits of minority shareholders and sympathetic to impoverishment. middle class dependent on automobiles and vulnerable to fluctuations in fuel prices.

It is for this reason and other bad ones that the war against Petrobras, announced on the eve of the election, may not remain just in the gogó. And the creation of an unlikely CPI on the state-owned company is no longer so unlikely.

In this smoke there is the finger of the Centrão. And where there is Centão, there is fire.

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