Fri, Jan 20, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Brazilian education minister quits job to run for mayor

Reuters, BRASILIA

Brazil’s education minister quit on Wednesday to run for mayor of the country’s largest city, a departure that was expected to usher in other Cabinet changes by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff later this month.

Fernando Haddad, a member of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, is planning to run for mayor of Sao Paulo in local elections in October, and will be replaced by Aloizio Mercadante, until now minister of science and technology, the government said.

Mercadante will be replaced in turn by a technocrat rather than a politician, with the naming of Marco Antonio Raupp, head of the Brazilian Space Agency, reflecting Rousseff’s preference for technical competence over political connections.

Allegations

Rousseff dismissed six ministers over corruption allegations last year.

The scandals did not hurt her political standing and instead boosted her popularity among Brazilians, who see their first woman president as being serious about cleaning house.

Dismissals

Despite the dismissals, Rousseff has managed to hold together her left-of-center coalition of 17 parties — six of which hold Cabinet positions — and she begins her second year in office with an approval rating of 70 percent, according to local polls.

Brazil’s economic team, headed by Brazilian Minister of Finance Guido Mantega, is expected to stay in place intact as Rousseff’s government strives to contain inflation and rekindle economic growth that ground to a halt in the third quarter of last year.

Other changes

Some other possible Cabinet changes may stem from the expected departure of the secretary of women’s affairs Iriny Lopes to run for local office, and the need to name a new labor minister.

Rousseff’s former labor minister, Carlos Lupi, resigned on Dec. 4 in the face of mounting pressures over allegations he had favored non-governmental organizations linked to his Brazilian Workers’ Party with government contracts.

His deputy has been heading the ministry on an interim basis.

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