Lower House Speaker Maia is the key political supporter of the reform, but he will seek to show his independence from the administration. For his part, Economy Minister Guedes has shown his willingness to offer financial assistance to states in exchange for their support for reform.
Guedes and Maia are on the same page, which bodes well for the reform. Despite the lack of a clear message from President Bolsonaro himself, the good news is that the Speaker of the Lower House and the Senate President see pension reform as the top priority. Although the path ahead will be challenging, the strategy of turning the reform into a national issue, which involves state and municipal governments, will play an important role it getting it passed. Maia's political skills - and longer-term ambitions - make him the ideal partner for Guedes and the economic team to build support for the reform.
The economic team also appears to be willing to eliminate some elements of the reform to keep it focussed. We believe this is positive and will help speed up the approval process.
While Maia and Guedes have expressed their support for an ambitious reform, Bolsonaro needs to be on board too. If he expresses his willingness to use his political capital to push for an ambitious reform, his current popularity, combined with the rising understanding among the population about the need for reform, will set the stage for its approval this year.
The political progress of the reform bill was smoother than many had expected. Pension reform passed the Lower House in July 2019.