"The Senate has just 81 members but somehow they require almost 10,000 staff to take care of them. Many of these are appointed as favours to senators’ friends or political supporters. One former staffer says that his fellow-employees used to say that the senate was like a mother to them. Others liken it to a country club. The benefits of membership include free health insurance for life for all senators and their families, generous pension arrangements and housing allowances. This much was already familiar to Brazilians and, perhaps, not so different from the goings on in many other legislatures around the world."
"Mr Sarney, who has spent 50 years in public life, is a survivor. He will probably keep his post. He remains a power in the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), a catch-all outfit that is an important part of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s governing coalition. Lula wants Mr Sarney to swing the weight of the PMDB, and its patronage machine, behind Dilma Rousseff, the probable candidate of the ruling Workers’ Party in the presidential election next year.
Lula has said that Mr Sarney deserves more respect, and has blamed the press for whipping up scandal. But at a time when the economy is only just emerging from recession, the saga of the “secret acts” has reminded Brazilians that their politicians never impose austerity on themselves. It may also have reminded them of the flaws of some of Lula’s allies, and his willingness to shut his eyes to scandal when it suits him."