Jair Bolsonaro (PL) is the president who least approved proposals in Congress and with the highest rate of rejection of his vetoes and provisional measures after the period of the military dictatorship (1964-1985).
In addition, Bolsonaro broke the record for the first term of the government of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and is the president who most edited provisional measures (MPs). Article 62 of the Federal Constitution establishes that the President of the Republic may adopt the instrument in case of relevance and urgency. They take effect immediately as if they were laws, but they need to be approved by Congress later, otherwise they lose their validity.
The data are from a study by the consultancy Concórdia Public Affairs, carried out by economist Alberto Bueno, who is a founding partner of the company, which carries out, among other activities, political analysis and business strategy.
According to the survey, since taking office in January 2019, Bolsonaro has edited 241 MPs, an average of 1.5 MPs per week.
In comparison, the averages of the combined terms of FHC and Lula were, respectively, 0.9 and 1.0 MPs per week.
The study considers that the emergence of covid-19 induced the publication of a greater number of MPs, however, only 17% of the 241 edited by Bolsonaro dealt strictly with combating the pandemic and its effects.
In 2001, given the explosion in the number of MPs edited, an attempt was made to limit their use through Constitutional Amendment 32/2001, which added some restrictions, prohibited their re-edition and established rules regarding their appreciation by the Legislative Power.
The changes introduced had some impact, mainly in relation to the impossibility of reprinting, which forced Congress to examine the MPs within the constitutional deadlines. Despite this, the study points out that all presidents elected after 2001 continued to abuse this prerogative, publishing a high number of MPs in absolute terms.
Level of propositions similar to Dilma and Temer
Bolsonaro shares with former president Dilma Rousseff and former president Michel Temer the same level in the number of proposals sent to Congress, with an average of 1.9 proposals (PLs, PLPs and PECs) per month.
Former presidents Lula, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Itamar Franco and Fernando Collor register an average of approximately 5 proposals per month.
If the provisional measures are included, of which Bolsonaro is the champion, the current president is close to the highest averages (10 proposals per month), belonging to Lula and FHC.
Low ability to pass laws
Despite having a base of support in Congress, which grew with the inclusion of the so-called centrão in the government, the study points out that Bolsonaro is the president with the worst rate of conversion of legislative proposals.
Of the total of measures proposed by the government – including MPs, Bills and PECs – until the end of March this year, according to the study, Bolsonaro approved only 34% of what he suggested to Congress.
Temer is the closest to Bolsonaro’s level, even so with an average rate of 52%. Former President Lula is the champion of proposals converted into law. In the first term, the PT’s average rate was 77.3%. The index dropped to 64.2% in Lula’s second term.
According to the study, Bolsonaro only managed to pass 7 of the 78 bills and 2 of the 5 PECs that his government sent to Congress. Furthermore, the current president failed to pass any of the 10 complementary bills he proposed.
That is, if MPs are excluded from the analysis, Bolsonaro’s ability to convince Congress to approve his proposals drops to 9.8%.
Overturning presidential vetoes
The survey carried out by Concordia also shows that Bolsonaro was the president who, proportionally, vetoed the most proposals approved by Congress (37.7% until March 2022) and also had his vetoes overturned by parliamentarians.
Of the 194 Bolsonaro vetoes considered so far, 26% were totally rejected and another 17% partially rejected, resulting in the worst veto maintenance rate (57%) among all the presidents analyzed.
The rate of rejection by Congress to its vetoes is also significantly higher than that suffered by Dilma and Temer – two governments that had this instrument of rejection in operation. It was created by Congress in 2013 and sets a period of 30 days for the consideration of vetoes, blocking the Congressional agenda.
During Temer’s administration, Congress evaluated 131 vetoes and the maintenance rate was 85%. In the PT government, in the first term, 79 vetoes were approved and the maintenance rate was 99%. In her second term, already in crisis with Congress, Dilma had a 97% maintenance rate.
During the Collor, Itamar, FHC and Lula administrations, Congress often did not appreciate vetoes, having, for example, rejected only one veto by FHC and two by Lula.
Of all the governments analyzed, only Lula, Dilma and Bolsonaro had MPs returned, adding up to five returns in total. PT members each had one measure returned. Bolsonaro had two MPs returned by parliamentarians, the most recent being the so-called MP from Feke News, in September last year.
The study concludes that, in addition to having difficulty approving proposals of his own, Bolsonaro also demonstrates misalignment with Congress by failing to contain the approval of proposals contrary to his interests.
Palácio do Planalto was approached to comment on the survey data, but did not respond until the publication of this text.