On February 4, the National Congress officially inaugurated Brazil’s 56th legislature (2019-2023). In a solemn session attended by deputies and senators alike, one legislator read a speech by Jair Bolsonaro in which he declared “war” on organized crime and pledged “tougher laws” on crime. Both chambers have already elected their authorities, but have not yet defined the new composition of the committees.
Although the session initiated the legislature, the legislators for the 2019-2023 period took office on February 1. On that day, 513 deputies and 54 senators were sworn in. The former comprise a 301-strong pro-government bloc and ecompass 11 separate political parties. Although this bloc provides a broad base of legislative support, this does not necessarily imply that all government policies will be approved by those 301 deputies: to consolidate that support, the ruling party will now have to negotiate consensus among those pro government legislators. Also, the lower chamber elected Rodrigo Maia as its president for the third time.
The Senate, for its part, finished defining its Board of Directors on February 6. Davi Alcolumbre was elected president of the Senate and, for the first time, the 11 positions of the Table (Mesa), which include vice-presidencies and secretaries, were filled by representatives of 11 different parties.
In terms of governability, the presidencies of the chambers are important because they have the power to define voting guidelines and accept or reject impeachment requests against the Executive. On this point, it is important to note that both Maia and Alcolumbre belong to the Democrats, a party allied to the ruling party. All that remains now is to define how the different congressional committees are to be composed.