The latest manoeuvres were designed as much to exploit the fissures within the PMDB as to buy its allegiance. The largest party in Brazil, the PMDB has at least three factions that orbit around the organisations leading lights: Michel Temer (the vice-president); Renan Calheiros (the federal senate president) and Eduardo Cunha (the speaker of the federal lower chamber of congress). The PMDB’s Marcelo Castro, an ally of Cunha, now controls the health ministry, which has the second-largest budget of any ministry. His appointment to that important post irritated some within the PT, because it meant the displacement of one of their own – Arthur Chioro – with a man who has previously voted for constitutional amendments that would have cut financing for public healthcare. Another Cunha ally, Celso Pansera, was appointed to the science & technology ministry. Neither of these men has any expertise in their new portfolios.

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