The Real Center of Power

Mar 1, 2004

The white marble and glass Planalto palace in Brasília is Brazil's political nerve center. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his closest advisers all have their offices in the palace, and Lula has expanded the already enormous power of the presidency through his political adroitness, his position as head of a cohesive political party and because his aides are themselves politically skilled. Many of his predecessors struggled to wield power effectively because they lacked the kind of support Lula commands. The results of his fearsomely efficient political machine has been able to create alliances, negotiate legislation with Congress, as well as build bridges to the business and financial community without alienating its traditional political base.

Few government ministries have much political influence of their own. Most are staffed with technocrats, party appointees or members of the ruling coalition. Only Antonio Palocci, the finance minister,...

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