New government

Lewandowski, Marina, Haddad, Tebet, Dino... Who is being considered for Lula's ministry?

Between old and new allies, Brazil’s president-elect discusses the names that will compose his third term governing

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) |
During the electoral campaign, Lula had already formed a broad alliance with ten parties. After the first round, this group became even broader - Foto: Ricardo Stuckert

The first week after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's (Workers’ Party, known in Brazil as PT) historical victory to run Brazil for the third time was intense. Among coupist acts and Jair Bolsonaro’s (Liberal Party) silence, Brasília saw many meetings taking place, news, rumors, and bluffs that tried to reveal the government’s team to be formed by Lula for 2023.

During the electoral campaign, Lula had already formed a broad alliance with ten parties. After the first round, this group became even broader with the Social Democratic Party (PSD, in Portuguese), part of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB, in Portuguese), some politicians from Union Brazil and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, and others. If this complex alliance offers the real dimension of Bolsonaro’s political isolation, on the other hand, it announces difficulties in forming a ministerial team. 

It is a consensus that the total number of ministries will rise from 23 to 33 or 34. The transition team project, headed by vice president-elect Geraldo Alckmin (Brazilian Socialist Party, PSB in Portuguese), includes the return of ministries that were extinct by Bolsonaro, such as the Ministry of Labor, Women, Racial Equality and Culture.

There will be new ministries too. One of them is the Native People’s Ministry, already announced by Lula. For heading it, the favorite name is federal deputy-elect Sônia Guajajara (Socialism and Liberty Party, known in Brazil as PSOL), one of the few solid bets amid speculations. 

:: “There are not two Brazils. We are one people, one nation,” says Lula in speech ::

Another name beyond the bets is senator-elect Flávio Dino (PSB, Maranhão state), with a big chance of taking on the Ministry of Justice. The post can serve as a bridge to one of the two seats that will vacate in 2023 for the country’s Federal Supreme Court after the retirement of ministers Ricardo Lewandovski and Rosa Weber.

Lewandoski has recently emerged as an important name to take on the Ministry of Defense or as an alternative to the Ministry of Justice in case the Workers’ Party opts to keep Flávio Dino in the Senate. Workers’ Party members believe that senators and federal deputies with mandates may be relevant in the National Congress in a situation that will be difficult for Lula's government.

Sociologist Marco Aurélio Santana Ribeiro, also known as Marcola, Lula’s personal adviser, will be the President’s Chief of Staff. In Lula’s previous terms, Gilberto Carvalho was the chief of staff. 

Despite the analysis of the correlation of forces in the National Congress, Lula intends to give up on allies that he considers as key party members, such as senator-elect Wellington Dias (Workers’ Party, Piauí state), who may take on as Chief of Staff, a ministry the Workers’ Party members consider as an imperative one to be headed by the party. Another name is Bahia’s former governor Rui Costa.

The Workers’ Party and ministries

Workers’ Party leaders acknowledge that a broad alliance will demand the party to give up posts to other parties. That is why the most optimistic calculations point to the party maintaining, at most, eight ministries.

Fernando Haddad may be one of the ministers in the next government. The Workers’ Party member does not want to take on the Ministry of Education since he thinks he has contributed a lot to the sector and does not intend to put his legacy to the test. On the other hand, Lula does not want to repeat names in ministries they have already led. 

The result of this equation is that Haddad can be indicated to the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Planning. There is a concern among Workers’ Party members to offer a prominent ministry for the former mayor of São Paulo, who could be a name to succeed Lula in the 2026 presidential election.

Another strong alternative for the Ministry of Finance that has been talked about is federal deputy Alexandre Padilha (Workers’ Party, São Paulo state). The party wants this ministry to stay under its control. There is intense resistance to choosing someone from the financial sector, such as Henrique Meirelles or Armínio Fraga, who both supported Lula during this year’s electoral campaign. 


Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento: Agriculture, Livestock and Supply Cidadania (Desenvolvimento Social): Ministry of Citizenship (Social Development) Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovações: Science, Technology and Innovations; Defesa: Defense; Economia: Economy; Educação: Education; Justiça: Justice; Meio Ambiente: Environment; Saúde: Health; Trabalho e Previdência: Labor and Welfare; Casa Civil: Chief of Staff; Igualdade Racial: Racial Equality; Povos Nativos: Native Peoples; Cultura: Culture; Chefe de Gabinete: President’s Chief of Staff; Indústria, Comércio Exterior e Serviços: Industry, Foreign Trade, and Services; Ministério das Relações Exteriores: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Marina Silva is likely to have a different destiny. She may end up not being the name for the Ministry of Environment, which she headed between 2003 and May 2008, during Lula’s two terms as president. However, people close to the president-elect say that Marina should be reappointed to the same position, as it would be a sign to the world that the new Brazilian government will take the environmental agenda as a priority.

In case she does not take on the Ministry of Environment, Marina may take on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lula’s intention is to choose a woman for this ministry. However, depending on negotiations and ministerial team arrangements, Celso Amorim may head the ministry. Aloizio Mercadante is also considered for the post. 

Another option to be the next minister of environment is Izabella Teixeira, who headed this ministry between 2010 and 2016, going from Lula’s to Dilma Roussef’s governments. Just like Marina Siva, Teixeira is attending COP27 along with Brazil’s president-elect. 

Teixeira was responsible for formulating the environmental agenda of Lula’s election manifesto and is currently the co-president of the International Resource Panel, becoming one of the world's leading figures on climate issues.

Beyond Izabella Teixeira and Marina Silva, Senator Simone Tebet (MDB) is also attending COP27 with Lula. She assumed a key role in Lula’s electoral campaign during the second round of the elections and will lead a ministry.

Simone Tebet and the Democratic Labor Party (PDT)

The obvious choice would be for Simone Tebet to lead the Ministry of Agriculture. However, she wants to be minister of education. Her party, known in Brazil by the acronym MDB, is looking forward to the possibility of her running for president in 2026. Therefore, they want her to take on a ministry people know more about and which has a bigger budget. That is why the Ministry of Citizenship, which has a multimillion budget and includes the management of cash transfer policies, may be a possibility.

In the Ministry of Education, the surprise may be Maria Izolda Cela, governor of Ceará state. She has been without a party since she left PDT after being excluded by Ciro Gomes to run for the Ceará government. Ciro was one of the presidential candidates defeated in the first round.

Alckmin has been avoiding the idea of heading a ministry, but could end up taking on the Ministry of Defense. That is Lula's intention: he appointed José Alencar, his vice president during his two previous terms, to lead the ministry between 2004 and 2006. Lewandovski is also a possible choice in case the former governor of São Paulo does not accept the post. 

PDT will probably have a ministry, maybe the Ministry of Labor, which may be led by Carlos Luppi, the party’s president. Márcio França (PSB), who gave up running for governor of São Paulo to ease a national alliance between his party and the Workers’ Party, may lead a ministry, probably the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade, and Services. 

:: Environment on the spotlight of international expectations with Brazil after Lula's election ::

For the Ministry of Racial Equality, one of the ministries Lula revived, the strongest names are Nima Lino, a former minister of this same ministry, and Douglas Belchior, a young Black leader who is a Workers’ Party member and one of the founders of the Black Coalition for Rights (Coalizão Negra por Direitos, in Portuguese).

In recent days, the possibility of cardiologist doctor Ludhmila Hajjar taking on the Ministry of Health has increased. She was invited to lead the ministry during Jair Bolsonaro’s government, but she denied the invitation due to disagreements about how the government was dealing with the pandemic. 

Padilha, who was a successful minister, probably will not return to the post. Dimas Covas, a researcher and director of the Butantan Institute, is also on the list. Covas has an advantage: he is close to vice president-elect Geraldo Alckmin.  

One should not expect ministers to be announced all at once. Lula's idea is to repeat what he did in 2002, introducing the chosen names little by little. There will be weeks of apprehension and speculation in national politics.

Edited by: Flávia Chacon e Rodrigo Durão Coelho