Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said Wednesday that he alone cannot rescue the country from economic hardship and spiralling violent crime, as he met with outgoing head of state Michel Temer and the country’s Supreme Court chief.
Bolsonaro won an election run-off 10 days ago against leftist candidate Fernando Haddad with a market-friendly, tough-on-crime platform that resonated with a population disillusioned with political corruption and increasing insecurity.
“No single person is going to save our country,” Bolsonaro — who takes office on January 1 — said on the second day of a visit to the capital Brasilia, where he met Temer for the first time since the election.
It takes “a team, the unity of authorities alongside the people in order to offer alternatives that will allow Brazil to occupy the prominent position it deserves” globally, he added.
Temer invited Bolsonaro to accompany him on his foreign trips — meaning he could meet US President Donald Trump during the G20 summit, which begins in Buenos Aires at the end of the month.
Dubbed the “Tropical Trump” by some, Bolsonaro openly admires the American leader, who was quick to offer his congratulations to the new Brazilian president following his election victory.
Temer said there would be “true” collaboration between the pair, while Bolsonaro said he would seek out his predecessor “at other opportunities” so they could ensure a “fluid” transition.
After meeting Supreme Court president Dias Toffoli, Bolsonaro spoke out in defence of the separation of powers, an attempt to allay fears triggered by past comments in which he expressed admiration for Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship.
‘I’m not worried’
He also moved to dispel concerns that his cabinet would lack diversity, following statements seen as sexist, racist and homophobic.
“I’m not worried about the colour, sex or sexuality of those in my team, but rather with the mission of bringing growth to Brazil, and tackling crime and corruption,” said Bolsonaro.
He has so far named five people to his cabinet, all white men, and 27 consultants — mostly from the military or economists — to advise the government during its transition period, with no women among them.
However, following repeated questioning from journalists, Bolsonaro’s team said four women — three with military links and an economist — would collaborate with the future government.
Brazil’s population is 43 per cent white, almost nine per cent black and 47 per cent mixed race.
Bolsonaro’s primary challenges when he takes office will be to relaunch the economy after two years of recession followed by two more of limited growth and to reduce violent crime, especially the spiralling murder rate.
He will need to achieve that while also implementing a program to reduce public spending through privatizations and pension reform.
One of his election vows was to streamline the civil service by merging various ministries and on Wednesday he said the Labor Ministry would be incorporated into another government department, without specifying which one.
Since his October 28 victory, though, Bolsonaro has issued a number of confusing statements surrounding his plans.
He first said the number of ministries would be reduced from 29 to 15 but on Wednesday revised that by saying it might rise to 18.
He previously announced that the Environment Ministry would be incorporated into the Agriculture Ministry, before changing his mind two days later following uproar from environmentalists.