By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The vote by lawmakers on the crucial pension reform in Brazil has been suspended until next year, according to the announcement made by Chamber of Deputies president, Rodrigo Maia on Thursday (December 14th).

Brazil, Brasilia,Chamber of Deputies president Rodrigo Maia announced that voting on pension bill will only occur in February 2018
Chamber of Deputies president Rodrigo Maia announced that voting on pension bill will only occur in February 2018, photo by Wilson Dias/Agência Brasil.

According to the schedule announced by Maia, the debates on pension reform will start on February 5th, and the voting on the reform will come begin February 19th, right after Carnival celebrations.

For the lawmaker the conditions next year will be more favorable for the approval of the much-needed reform. “The reaction (of the reform) by society has already improved a lot, and tends to improve further in the coming weeks,” announced Maia on Thursday on the floor of the Chamber. “I hope that we can have this matter approved because it is fundamental for Brazil,” added the lawmaker.

Political analysts and some opposition lawmakers, however, believe that the pension reform will be very difficult to pass in Congress in 2018. They argue that since 2018 is an election year, lawmakers vying re-election would not be willing to risk their popularity by voting for the much criticized bill.

“I find it very difficult to have the discussions and vote in February, when there is a big holiday, a holiday of national character, and this can be confused with the Carnival parties,” PSB leader in the Lower House, Julio Delgado, was quoted as saying to government news agency, Agencia Brasil.

“The proximity of the elections hinders (the approval). We are very confident about winning another battle,” added Delgado.

For Maia, however, the extra time until February will be positive for trying to convince undecided lawmakers to pass the bill. “My belief is that when this vote starts on the 19th, we will have 320 votes in the next plenary to approve the pension reform,” he said.

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