Under discussion in the Chamber of Deputies, the PEC (Proposal for a Constitutional Amendment), which aims to bar the presence of active soldiers in positions in public administration, has majority support in the High Command of the Army.
The PEC began to be discussed in the wake of the episode in which Jair Bolsonaro pressured the Force not to punish active general Eduardo Pazuello, former minister of Health, for having participated in a political act with the president on May 23rd.
The capitulation to the Planalto, defended by Commander Paulo Sérgio Nogueira as a way to avoid an even greater crisis, was not fully digested by the collegiate of 15 four-star generals that form the top of the Army.
They settled the issue with Paulo Sérgio, even though they were concerned about the risk of military anarchy at lower levels — if a general can participate in rallies, against what the Army code says, what about when a sergeant does?
But, continuously, they started to debate ways to mitigate future crises. The idea of barring the presence of active-duty officials in governments, which had already been promoted for years, took shape. Obviously, no one will speak out publicly.
The Army is also upset by the fact that only the Force is in the hot seat. Few question, for example, the fact that the active admiral Flávio Rocha occupies a seat at the Palácio do Planalto.
On the other hand, there were widespread criticisms of Pazuello’s departure, after his disastrous stint at the Ministry of Health, to a post precisely in the Strategic Affairs Secretariat headed by Rocha.
After supporting the Bolsonaro candidacy in 2018, a majority among the military, as reported in a book by the army commander at the time, Eduardo Villas Bôas, reserve and active duty officers entered the federal government.
Figures such as General Luiz Eduardo Ramos (now in the Civil House), General Walter Braga Netto (now in Defense) and Admiral Bento Albuquerque (from the beginning in Minas e Energia) spent months in active service before retiring.
Others, like Pazuello and Rocha, never left active service. This is allowed today: the military continues to earn his salary and receives a value as an addition to the new position, usually the commission bonus.
For members of the High Command and interlocutors of the group, the veto is the only instrument to prevent new cases Pazuello rocking the corporation’s boat. The measure has been defended for some time by politicians who live in the barracks, such as former defense ministers Raul Jungmann and Aldo Rabelo.
The long-term effect of the Bolsonaro crisis, however, is seen as uncertain and likely to last. In two years, the retired army captain had more barracks crises than all of his post-1985 predecessors.
In one of the versions that run about the defeat of Paulo Sérgio, the humiliation suffered now at the hands of the president would have been a tactical retreat, but that no authoritarian advance by Bolsonaro will be tolerated.
It may be, but the question of the fear of politicization of the barracks and, extending the concept, of the more fickle Military Police, remains on the agenda. In particular due to the Pocketnarist manipulation perceived for use in the 2022 election year.
Commanders of military units at the top report that they have their radar turned on to punish any disciplinary transgressions à la Pazuello, but admit that monitoring social media is extremely difficult.
The PEC, authored by Deputy Perpétua Almeida (PCdoB-AC), is in the signature collection phase. She has the support of several leaders, and became well regarded by the president of the House, Arthur Lira (PP-AL).
He even supports the idea of including a provision in the text that mandates a quarantine for judges who intend to run for elected office. In conversations, the period could be from five to eight years.
Lira, an exponent of the centrão, thus looks at the group of magistrates linked to the late Operation Lava Jato, the greatest anti-corruption action in history that was buried by the Attorney General’s Office with support from Bolsonaro this year.
The operation’s symbol-judge, former Justice Minister Sergio Moro, is always seen as a possible candidate for the Executive, maintaining a relatively good score in polls for the Presidency.
He was always hated by the centrão and today he is by Planalto, after having joined Bolsonaro and helped the current president’s campaign speech.
Returning to the military, the center is also interested in the idea that the nearly 3,000 positions held by active duty soldiers, a volume similar to those in the hands of reserve uniforms, can be released to their own nominees.
The text of the PEC, if it comes to be processed, is still embryonic. For him, soldiers with up to ten years in the barracks have to leave and then assume public positions, while those over ten years old would have to automatically go into reserve.
The rule mirrors what applies to active military candidacies. According to article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for eligibility, those who have less than ten years of service must withdraw from the activity, while those who have more will be added by the higher authority in the campaign and, if elected, will go to the reserve.
This can happen without party affiliation, prohibited to active duty personnel by Article 142 of the Charter.
To proceed, the PEC needs 171 votes (1/3 of the plenary). To be approved, it needs 308 votes (3/5 of the total) in two rounds. From there it is sent to the Senate, where it needs to go through the same vote. Approved, promulgated — it does not pass through the Executive.