President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met with the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), on Friday for a breakfast meeting with the aim of smoothing things over and improving their relationship following the complaints made by the legislator about the government, which were expressed in his speech at the opening of the legislative year on Monday.
According to sources interviewed by Reuters, Lira, who returned from vacation for the opening of the legislative year, requested a meeting with the president, who scheduled it for Friday morning. The lawmaker postponed his trip back to his state, Alagoas, in order to speak with the president, who is spending Carnival in Brasília before embarking on a trip to Africa.
One source said that during the conversation, which lasted over an hour and took place solely between the two of them, Lula promised Lira that he would have a direct channel to him to address issues in their relationship with legislators.
The president promised to involve himself more in negotiations and told Lira that he could contact him directly through his aides when needed.
In his speech at the opening of the legislative year, Lira delivered a tough address in which he demanded that the government fulfill agreements and stated that the Chamber was not merely a “rubber stamp” for government projects.
Earlier this week, he signed a request for information summoning the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade, to explain the payment of parliamentary amendments, in an unusual gesture. Normally, this type of act is signed by ordinary lawmakers, not the president of the Chamber.
Behind the lawmaker’s irritation is the loss of power over negotiations for the release of amendments for legislators, which shifted from the presidency of the Chamber with the end of the so-called “secret budget” and went to the Secretariat of Institutional Relations, headed by Minister Alexandre Padilha.
Lira has told allies that he would like Lula to replace Padilha, with whom his relationship has deteriorated. However, this is unlikely to happen.
Lira is also bothered by the need to choose his successor as president of the Chamber. In recent weeks, the presidential palace has included two names competing for Lira’s position, the Vice-President of the Chamber, Marcos Pereira (Republicanos-SP), and Deputy Antonio Brito (PSD-BA), on trips with Lula.
Both have more favor with the presidential palace than Deputy Elmar Nascimento (União-BA), who is Lira’s preferred candidate. However, the three of them split the votes of the “centrão” (a political coalition) and could fracture Lira’s base of support. The President of the Chamber wanted a show of support for his candidate from the presidential palace, but Lula plans to stay out of the competition.