After months of trying to gain a coalition, the Michel Temer administration admits it can't pass its unpopular pension reform bill choosing to push it aside long term to evade an embarrassing vote.
The Political Affairs Minister Carlos Marun said today that the bill intended to overhaul Brazil's social security system simply couldn't muster the votes it needed to pass Congress allowing legislators to avoid voting on the politically controversial measure.
"We don't have the votes. I couldn't guarantee we would have the votes by the end of February," Marun told reporters. The late February deadline was proposed by the government in December to avoid that the pension issue becomes a campaign trail topic as legislators start self-promoting in the run-up to October elections.
Temer's ruling Democratic Movement Party has been trying since December to gain a congressional coalition around the pension bill, which analysts have called the "cornerstone" of Temer’s administration, an administration that began as an overthrow the elected Dilma Rousseff in August 2016.
The current right-wing government says that pension benefits and early retirement for public servants are driving up the country’s deficit and downgrading Brazil’s status among foreign investors.
By early February Marun, charged to galvanize the coalition, only had the support of about 271 of the 308 legislators needed to pass the government’s proposal. Temer’s 5 percent approval rating didn’t help the minister Marun’s task.
In addition, the legislation would have required a constitutional amendment. However, last Friday Temer, likely to avoid a vote on the bill, mandated the military to take over police forces in the state of Rio de Janeiro with the intent to curb violence. Such a decree prohibits constitutional amendments.
Temer’s military mandate expires Dec. 31, his last day in office.