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
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
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