Brazil Minister From Biggest Party Said to Offer Resignation

  • Eliseu Padilha is civil aviation minister and PMDB member
  • Rousseff needs party's support to fend off impeachment threat

A key member of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s Cabinet has submitted his letter of resignation, according to two officials familiar with the decision.

Rouseff hasn’t accepted the letter from Eliseu Padilha, Brazil’s civil aviation minister and a member of her biggest allied party in Congress, said the officials, who asked not to be named because the president has yet to accept the request.

Padilha’s push to leave the administration is an unwelcome development for Rousseff as she tries to ensure the loyalty of her coalition. His move would pose a threat to her survival if other PMDB members follow suit and abandon the president when it comes time to vote on impeachment, said David Fleischer, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Brasilia.

"If the PMDB in bloc works against Dilma, then she’s had it," he said. "They’re the key party."

Rousseff’s Support

Padilha worked closely with Vice President Michel Temer, who is the PMDB party president, to try and rebuild Rousseff’s support in Congress earlier this year. The minister left his letter of resignation at the presidential palace on Thursday after waiting two hours in vain to meet with Rousseff, one of the officials said.

Globo News reported about Padilha’s resignation earlier on Friday. Rousseff’s press office said by e-mail it didn’t have official information. Padilha’s press office said he will make a official statement on Monday after speaking with the president.

The PMDB party is the biggest in Congress, where the lower house is forming a committee to analyze the impeachment request that alleges Rousseff illegally financed her re-election campaign and broke the fiscal law by overspending this year and last. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The committee makes a recommendation to the full house, where two-thirds of lawmakers must back impeachment before hearings can start in the Senate. In that case, Rousseff would have to step down and temporarily hand over the reins to Temer. He would remain in power if the Senate impeaches Rousseff or resume the vice presidency if she is absolved.

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