BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The government of Brazil’s President Michel Temer is far from assembling the coalition needed to pass a landmark pension reform, but potential supporters of the measure are now more organized, a key legislator said on Monday.
“We’re still enormously far (from having the needed votes), but we have a party leader committed, a party president committed, one party that’s set to commit,” Brazil’s lower house speaker, Rodrigo Maia, told journalists after an event in Rio de Janeiro.
Pension reform is the cornerstone policy in President Temer’s efforts to bring Brazil’s deficit under control. But the measure is widely unpopular with Brazilians, who are accustomed to a relatively expansive welfare net.
In order to curry support from Congress, Temer and his allies watered down their original proposal in November, requiring fewer years of contributions by private sector workers to receive a pension.
According to several government sources, Temer’s allies have grown more optimistic in the last week about the reform’s chances.
However, speed is essential for the bill’s passage. A congressional recess begins on Dec. 22, and lawmaking thereafter will be hampered by politics, as lawmakers ramp up their campaigns for 2018 elections. (Reporting by Richardo Brito and Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Additional reporting by Natália Scalzaretto in Sao Paulo; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)