|| March 19: Edited by Richard Lapper, Latin America editor |
Lula's cabinet delayed again
Will Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, ever actually name his cabinet for his second term in office, under way since January 1? Since he won re-election in a landslide last October, he has delayed the announcement at least five times. With what seemed to be the final hurdle out of the way a week ago - internal elections in the catch-all PMDB, whose support in Congress the president badly needs - the first names emerged last week. The PMDB, to its surprise and delight, is to get five big ministerial jobs - an outcome described by Michel Temer, party president, as "a spectacular result".
But the delays weren't over yet. Due to be sworn in on Monday, Odílio Balbinotti, the PMDB's new agriculture minister, resigned from a job not yet his on Saturday. The reason: media outcry over the fact that the Supreme Court is investigating him for fraud (something that seems not to have bothered Mr Lula da Silva during the four months he had reportedly had him in mind for the job). The credentials of his most likely replacements may not be much better.
One of the ironies of all this is that the president appears to have solid support in Congress, with the opposition in increasing disarray. But his government will have to get working very soon if it is to stand any chance at all of delivering the 5 per cent growth it has promised.