Aécio Neves

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This name uses Portuguese naming customs. The first or maternal family name is Neves and the second or paternal family name is da Cunha.
Aécio Neves
Aécio Neves 2014-02-20.jpg
Member of the Federal Senate
from Minas Gerais
Assumed office
1 February 2011
Serving with Clésio Andrade, Zezé Perrella
Preceded by Eduardo Azeredo
Leader of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party
Assumed office
18 May 2013
Preceded by Sérgio Guerra
37th Governor of Minas Gerais
In office
1 January 2003 – 31 March 2010
Vice Governor Clésio Andrade (2003–2007)
Antônio Anastasia (2007–2010)
Preceded by Itamar Franco
Succeeded by Antônio Anastasia
President of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
14 February 2001 – 14 December 2002
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by Michel Temer
Succeeded by João Paulo Cunha
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
from Minas Gerais
In office
1 February 1987 – 14 December 2002
Constituency Proportional representation
Personal details
Born Aécio Neves da Cunha
(1960-03-10) 10 March 1960 (age 54)
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Political party Social Democracy Party
Spouse(s) Andréa Falcão (1991–1998)
Letícia Weber (2013–present)
Children Gabriela
Alma mater Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais
Religion Roman Catholicism

Aécio Neves da Cunha (born 10 March 1960) is a Brazilian economist, politician and former president of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB); he was the 17th Governor of Minas Gerais January 1, 2003 to March 31, 2010, and is currently a member of the Brazilian Federal Senate. Neves was the first governor in the history of Minas Gerias to be elected in the first electoral round. He received 5,282,943 votes (57.68% of votes cast). He is also a former congressman, interim president of Brazil and was appointed secretary for special affairs of the Brazilian presidency prior to the death of President-elect Tancredo Neves. Born in Belo Horizonte, he is the youngest governor in the state's history. He began his political career working with his grandfather, Tancredo Neves, who was elected President of Brazil in 1985 (but who died before taking office). Aecio Neves served four terms as an elected Deputy in the Brazilian Federal Chamber of Deputies between 1987 and 2002, representing the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB). He was the President of the Chamber of Deputies in 2001/02.

As governor, Aecio Neves introduced the "Management Shock": a set of sweeping reforms designed to bring the state budget under control by reducing government expenditure and promoting investment. Having been tipped as a potential candidate for the Brazilian Presidential elections in 2010, Neves announced his intention to stand aside from the race at the end of 2009.[1] He ran for the Brazilian Federal Senate instead, and was elected a Senator representing the State of Minas Gerais. He took office as a Senator of the Republic on 1 February 2011.

Aécio was a columnist at Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo until June 2014.[2]

Early years[edit]

Aécio Neves acted as personal secretary to his maternal grandfather, Tancredo Neves, who was Governor of Minas Gerais in the early 1980s

Aécio Neves was born in March 10, 1960 in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, to politician Aécio Cunha and Inês Maria. Neves hails from a family of traditional politicians in Minas Gerais. His maternal grandfather, Tancredo Neves, was a key figure in the redemocratization of Brazil, served as governor of Minas Gerais and elected via electoral college.[3] Tancredo Neves died before assuming the presidential office. Neves’ paternal grandfather, Tristão Ferreira da Cunha, and his father Aécio Cunha were congressmen representing the state of Minas Gerais.[4]

His paternal grandfather, Tristão Ferreira da Cunha, a native of Teófilo Otoni, a northern city in Minas Gerais, was also a politician as well as a lawyer and a professor. He was Secretary of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce in the state government of Juscelino Kubitschek (1951–1955).Aécio Cunha, son of Tristão and father of Aécio, was state deputy between 1955 and 1963 and federal representative between 1963 and 1987.

Neves moved to Rio de Janeiro with his parents when his was 10 years old. He had his first job at the Administrative Council for Economic Defense of the Ministry of Justice in Rio de Janeiro. In 1981 his maternal grandfather convinced Neves to return to Belo Horizonte. He moved into an apartment that shared by his maternal grandfather and father and transferred to Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, where he majored in economics.[5]

In 1982, already in Belo Horizonte, Aécio began working in his grandfather's campaign for the state government, attending meetings and rallies in more than three hundred towns. Tancredo Neves was elected governor, and in 1983, Aécio was invited serve as private secretary to the governor of Minas Gerais. In the following years, Aécio participated in the movement "Diretas Já" and in Tancredo Neves’ presidential campaign.

In 1985, Tancredo Neves won the Brazilian presidency via electoral college. After the election, accompanied the president-elect on visits to democratic countries, what was a political strategy used to enhance the retransition to democracy in Brazil. They visited the United States and American President Ronald Reagan, France and French President François Mitterrand, Italy and Italian President Sandro Pertini, Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Pope John Paul II.

Neves was appointed secretary of Special Affairs of the Presidency by the elected President-elect Tancredo Neves. Tancredo Neves died before assuming office, and Aécio Neves’ appointment was vacated when Vice President José Sarney assumed the Brazilian presidency. Aécio Neves was subsequently appointed a director of Caixa Econômica Federal.

Legislative career[edit]


Aécio Neves represented Minas Gerais in Congress for four terms. In 1986, he ran for the National Constituent Assembly as a member of Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). He received 236,019 votes, which at the time was the largest vote total for a congressman elected from Minas Gerias.[6] In the Constituent Assembly, he was vice the chairman of the Sovereignty and Rights and Guarantees of Men and Women, and was also one of the authors of the amendment that made Brazil’s voting age 16 years old.[7][8]

In 1990, he was elected congressman for a new term. In his second term (1991-1995), he voted for the impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Melo.[9]

In 1992, Aécio ran for mayor of Belo Horizonte, but he was defeated. It was his only electoral defeat.[10] Neves was reelected to Congress for a third term in 1994.[11] The term lasted from 1995-1998, during which he was elected president of PSDB Minas Gerais. In 1997, he became PSDB’s leader in Congress.[12]

President of the Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Neves was elected president of the Chamber of Deputies in 2001. He had ran against Aloízio Mercadante (PT-SP), Innocente Oliveira (PFL-PE), Valdemar Costa Neto (PL-SP) and Nelson Marquezelli (PTB-SP).[13] He received more votes than all his competitors combined.[14] He serves as president of Congress from February 14, 2001 until December 17, 2002. As president of Congress he assumed, temporarily, the presidency of Brazil starting on June 26, 2001.[15]

Under his leadership, the Board promoted the so-called Ethical Package, a set of measures aimed at moralizing parliamentary action. Neves led the vote of the end of congressional immunity for common crimes, the establishment of a code of ethics and propriety and the Ethics Committee.[16] He also provided the processing and votes of bills on the Internet so that the public could monitor the processing of the legislative process.[17] He also cut congressional spending and sent the saved monies back to the federal government.[18]


Aécio in the Senate in June 25, 2013

Neves, along with former President Itamar Franco, was elected senator on October 3, 2010 with 7,565,377 votes. His successor as governor of Minas Gerais, Antonio Anastasia, was also elected in the same year.[19]

Neves is a member of the Senate committees on Political Reform, Constitutional Affairs, Justice and Citizenship. He participated in the Economic Affairs Committee.[20] Among his initiatives is the support of a bipartisan agreement to strengthen the legislature and change the rules for editing and processing of provisional measures (PMs) in Congress.

In partnership with congressman Gabriel Chalita (PMDB-SP) and Senator Lindbergh Farias (PT-RJ), Neves attended the launch of the Parliamentary Front for adoption in June 2011. The initiative is nonpartisan and aims at mobilizing society and governments around policies and actions to encourage the adoption of children and adolescents in Brazil.

The Front presented three projects. The first ensures a maternity leave of 120 days for mothers who adopt children or young people of all ages. The proposal also ensures that men who lead adoption processes can receive 120 days of paternity leave. The Front also proposes that organizations dedicated to protecting the rights of children and adolescents may present civil action; a procedural tool that aims to defend society or any of its segments. Another project allows citizens to deduct from the Income Tax of Firms donations made to nonprofit organizations that provide institutional care for children and adolescents services.

Aécio is giving a speech in the Senate in April 2013.

As a parliamentarian Neves has advocated the development of a new federal pact, the strengthening of parliamentary action with the restriction on the use of provisional measures, the reduction of taxes, and the change in the calculation used for payment of mining royalties.[21]

Still in his first year as senator, Neves introduced the Senate bill No. 717, which provides tax relief to sanitation, a campaign promise of President Dilma Rousseff to companies that was yet unfulfilled. In Brazil, sanitation companies spend more on taxes than on investments. Neves was also the author of the bill the Senate No. 698, 2011, which makes the minimum passing by Union to 70% of funds from the National Public Security Fund (FNSP) and the National Penitentiary Fund (FUNPEN) for Brazilian states and the Federal District.[22][23]

Another proposal of Aécio (PLS # 697, 2011) in education, enables employers that pay courses to employees may a possible discount on Corporate Income Tax.[24][25]

As a Senator Aécio Neves participates in discussions about the renegotiation of state debts with the Union and he presented a bill that reduces the interest charged to states, which today are higher than those charged by the federal government itself to private companies.[26]

Neves also authored of proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC 31, 2011), which requires the federal government to compensate for any loss of revenue suffered by states and municipalities because of tax exemptions for taxes with shared revenues. Thus, the government can continue to promote tax relief, but can not cut tax receipts to states and municipalities without their consent.[27][28]

In late October 2013, Neves presented a bill to transform Bolsa Família in a State policy. If approved by Congress and sanctioned by President Dilma, the bill would commit Bolsa Família to the National Social Assistance Fund, which would ensure the maintenance of benefit regardless of who is governing.[29]

In April 2011, in one of his pronouncements Senator Neves pointed out the "Paths of Opposition" and criticized the first 100 days of Dilma Rousseff’s government and a balance of the eight years of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva government. In a speech in February 2013, Neves pointed out 13 failures of the PT government.[30]

As congressman and senator, Neves was elected one of the "heads of Congress" in a list produced by the Department of Parliamentary Advisory (DIAP).

Governor of Minas Gerais[edit]

Neves upon becoming governor of Minas Gerias on January 1, 2003

2002 governor election[edit]

In June 18, 2002, Governor Itamar Franco declined to run for reelection and supported Neves as a candidate. Neves’ coalition comprised nine parties. It was left to PFL to choose running mate Clésio Andrade (PFL), president of the National Confederation of Transports. The main competitors of Aécio were Congressman Nilmário Miranda, PT, and the former governor Newton Cardoso, of PMDB.[31]

On October 6, 2002, Neves was elected governor of Minas Gerais in the first round. He was the first person to be elected in the first round in the history of Minas Gerias,[32] and his 5,282,043 votes (57.68%), was the highest vote level in the history of the state.[33]

2006 governor election[edit]

On March 28, 2006, Aécio announced his candidacy for reelection.[34] With reelection, Neves became the second longest-serving governor in state history. Neves’ 2006 coalition was named "Minas Não Pode Parar" and was composed of ten parties, and his running mate was Deputy Governor Antonio Anastasia, also of PSDB. In an election held on October 1, Neves was re-elected governor of Minas Gerais with 7,482,809 votes (73.03%).[35]

Neves worked on administrative reform to balance the public accounts. He reduced the number of state departments from 21 to 15. 447 divisions and 1,326 positions that could be filled without official admission were terminated. Cuts were made on the wages of the governor, deputy governor and secretary of state. The adoption of electronic trading over the internet was also among the measures at that time. He also created the College of Government Management, to which all departments report to monthly.

These measures reduced expenses and reorganized institutional apparatus of the state. He also implemented new management measures through the involvement of all organs and agencies of the State.

In February 2003, Aécio Neves traveled to Washington D.C. with his economic team to establish contacts with representatives of various international organizations and to increase foreign investment in Minas Gerais. After fourteen years in debt, the federal government recognized the balance of the accounts of the state and authorized the government of Minas Gerais to return to raise funds abroad as early as 2005.

In 2006, the Neves government paid all debts of delayed labor writ of the state, paying the value of R$292.08 million from 2003 to 2006.

In May 2008, the World Bank approved a loan of US$976 million to the state. The World Bank chose Minas Gerais as its first partner in the world to receive funding without financial charge. The consideration offered by the state was its commitment to achieving the goals in the areas including education and health.

Social development[edit]

Among the social programs implemented by Aécio are the Project to Combat Rural Poverty (PCRP), developed with total funding of US$70 million, divided into two payments of US$35 million, from the World Bank.[36] According to information published in Agência Mineira, the project covers 188 municipalities in Northern Minas Gerais and some districts.[37] The communities are responsible for organizing and defining its priorities. The projects range from the construction of kindergartens to the establishment of handicraft associations or fish farms.[37]

From the project's launch in 2006 until June 2008, 1283 agreements corresponding to US$28 million were signed. 74,600 families benefited.. (Jcana, World Bank Brazil Rural Poverty)

Neves launched the Youth Savings Program in March 2007 with the goal to support 50,000 high school students from the state system who live in areas of high social risk by 2010. Each of these students receive a sum of R$3,000 at the end of the third year of high school, which can be used in their professional career, as described on the official website of the Youth Savings Program by the Secretariat of State Planning and Management of Minas Gerais. To receive the money, the high school graduates must take a series of commitments on school performance, such as attendance, good grades, and personal behavior. They cannot, for example, engage in criminal activity and should perform community service.[38] Over 30,000 students have participated in the program and have received English classes, computer skills and professional training.


The Neves government created the Paving Program Links and Access Road program in 2004 with own resources and funding from the Interamerican Development Bank. The program included the paving of accesses to 225 municipalities that had previously been connected only by dirt roads.[39][40]

Proacesso received R$840 million in funds from the state treasury.[40] About 60% of municipalities are included in the regions of Jequitinhonha, Mucuri and Rio Doce, Northern and Northwestern Minas Gerais. Around 88% of cities have less than 10,000 inhabitants and 97% have Human Development Indexes (HDI) lower than the average for Minas Gerais.[40] Of the 219 participant municipalities, 212 are reachable by paved roads. In eight years enough roads were paved to correspond to half of all paved roads built in state history. In late 2005 work began to build Linha Verde, a subway in the northern metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte. The works were completed in 2008 and the north axis of Belo Horizonte and ten towns in its greater metropolitan area.

In 2005, the "Green line" project began. The centrepiece of it has been the construction of a 35.4 km rapid transit system from metropolitan Belo Horizonte to international airport Tancredo Neves.[41] The airport, which was opened in 1983 is located 40 km outside the city near Confins (and is widely referred to as Confins), and for many years had been underused due to its inaccessibility from the centre.[42] The Green Line – combined with an aggressive policy to force airlines to use Confins instead of the suburban Pampulha airport – has been a success in increasing the number of passengers using Confins.[42] The Green Line also aims to improve traffic flows across large parts of the metropolitan and greater Belo Horizonte area.[43]

Administrative City Tancredo Neves[edit]

Administrative City Tancredo Neves, built to be the new headquarters of State Government, was inaugurated by Neves on March 4, 2010,[44] on what would have been Tancredo Neves’ 100th birthday.[45] The set of five buildings was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and is located on the grounds of the former Hipódromo Serra Verde on the border of the municipalities of Belo Horizonte, Vespasiano and Santa Luzia.[46][47]

Administrative City Tancredo Neves concentrates in one location all departments and state agencies, as well as its 16,000 employees.[48][49]

With an area of 265 square meters, the complex includes the Tiradentes Palace, where the governor's office is based, two buildings for the departments and other bodies, and community center with restaurants, shops, banks, and an auditorium with 490 seats. The project was built with funds from the Economic Development Company of Minas Gerias, a state firm funded by mining royalties.

Cultura Circuit Praça da Liberdade[edit]

The Neves government also built the Cultura Circuit Praça da Liberdade, which is one of Belo Horizonte’s biggest tourist attractions. With the move of the Secretaries of State of Minas Gerais to the Administrative City, the historic buildings around Praça da Liberdade have been renovated and restored and now house the Cultural Circuit Praça a Liberdade. The area has museums, rooms for workshops, cafes, restaurants, and shops.

The TIM UFMG Knowledge Space houses a planetarium and an observatory. The Museum of Mining and Metals are installed in the former buildings of the UEMG (University of Minas Gerais) Rectory and the State Department of Education, respectively.

Liberdade Palace was restored with support from the Institute Oi Futuro. The Liberdade Palace can be visited on the last Sunday of each month, and has housed a multimedia exhibition that recovers the presence of ex-governors in that space. Vale Memorial portraits aspects of the history and culture of Minas Gerais. Banco do Brasil Cultural Center is a space for exhibitions and Cemig Centre one for Popular Art shows the art of Minas Gerais. Also part of the circuit are the Public State Library Luiz de Bessa, Mineiro Museum, Public Mineiro Archive and the Tourism Support Center Tancredo Neves, also known as Edificio Rainha da Sucata.

Management Shock[edit]

One of the main points of Aécio’s government is the so-called "Management Shock",[50] a set of measures to make the government spend less on the government itself and invest more in people. In the long term, Management Shock seeks to improve the quality and productivity of state government bodies. The program also provides for investment in the training of civil servants of the state and the adoption of new management models, which seek to improve services to citizens.[51][52]

In August 2008 the World Bank approved a loan of US$200 billion for the state, without requiring financial guarantees. In announcing the loan, John Briscoe, Director of the World Bank in Brazil said, "The broad political and social consensus around fiscal responsibility is a big step forward for Brazil. During the last five years, Minas Gerais has shown how this can be done. Many other governors are looking to adopt this model."[53] In 2008 the IDB offered a loan to the state, which was reported by Veja magazine and Valor Econômico newspaper.[54]

While some members of the opposition had reservations about the Management Shock in Minas Gerais, one of the main formulators of this policy, Professor Vicente Falconi was increasingly asked to apply the program’s principles in other spheres of public administration.[55] Falconi’s assistance was also sought by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as reported by Valor Economico newspaper published on July 28, 2004 and by an interview with Epoca magazine.[56]

Public servants[edit]

The Neves government reformed the wage system for civil servants and reinstituted Christmans bonuses for government employees. Neves also promoted the implementation of the Career Plans and R$100 million in unpaid wages funds were released. Management Shock sought to improve stability in public service jobs and promoted employee retention.

Public safety[edit]

From 2003-2008, violent crime in Minas Gerias dropped 36%. The largest declines were seen in the capital city Belo Horizonte (52%) and its metropolitan area (51%). During same period, the state government budgeted R$22 billion for public safety.

The state government hired new policemen, military policemen and firemen through civil service exams. In 2003, the number of new vehicles for military and civil police and fire department rose from 7,068 to 13,072. The Prison Guard was created and there was 400% increase in the number of prison officers between 2003 and 2009. In total, the number of officers working in security in Minas Gerais went from 49,400 in 2003 to 60,832 in 2009.

In 2003, Neves created “Stay Alive," a program to reduce homicides in the state.[57] Per year, 13,000 high-risk students and young adults from areas with the highest homicides throughout the state participate in the program. In the areas the program covers, homicide rates have dropped more than 50%. The program focuses on workshops on sport, culture, productive inclusion and communication to divert young people from crime.[58]

On 21 January 2009, the state government inaugurated the Reference Center for Pregnant Women in Jail, built in Vespasiano - MG.[59][60] This is the first prison in the country to house pregnant inmates and their babies until they complete one year.[61]

Aécio launched the first prison in the country built and administered through a public-private partnership. Unit I of Public-Private Prison Complex is located in Ribeirão das Neves, Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte (RMBH), and was inaugurated on January 28, 2013. Neves also promoted the strengthening of APAC, held in partnership with the Court of the state.Its purpose is to prevent recidivism and offer alternative recovery options for convicts.

Public health[edit]

The Neves government created programs for public health services provided to the general population. In 2012, according to the federal government IDSUS, Minas Gerais has the best health care system in the entire Brazilian Southeastern region.

One such program was the Pro-Hosp, which regionalized public health in Minas Gerais and distributed investment across all its. More than R$470 million was invested in108 municipalities in Minas Gerais.[62] In October 2003, the Rede Viva Vida, a program to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, was created in Minas Gerais. The program established Viva Life and Pregnancy Support Homes.[62] The program saw a 17% reduction of infant mortality, from 17.6 to 14.6 deaths per thousand births, during the years 2003-2008. Two thousand new PSF teams were implemented through the Health at Home program, totaling 4,009 teams, besides the construction, expansion and renovation of 1634 UBS - Basic Health Units. Also, 997 medical vehicles were purchased.[63][64]

The government also implemented the Minas Gerais Pharmacy program, which increased access to primary care medicine. Between 2003 and 2009 R$2.06 billion was invested in in the distribution of medications.[65] 61 Subsequently, the program began to do home deliveries for patients with chronic diseases.[66]


Neves extended basic education to nine years, from eight years, and distributed free school text books.[67]

In 2003, Minas Gerais was the first state in Brazil to put children six years of age in school, ensuring one more year in elementary education in public schools. Minas Gerais today has the best basic education in Brazil, according to IDED, a federal government agency. Average educational achievement for students in Minas Geraids students is commiserate to the achievement of students in developed countries.[68]

In 2005, the program Full Time Student was created, serving more than 105,000 students. (Agencia Minas tem a melhor educação) The government also created programs such as Living School and Active Community, which is focused on strengthening schools in urban areas with socially vulnerable populations who are subject to significant levels of violence. Living School and Active Community has served over 450,000 students[69][70]

Government approval ratings[edit]

Neves high approval ratings throughout his tenure as governor of Minas Gerais. In a research conducted by Datafolha Institute in July 2006, 21% of respondents gave top marks to his government.[71] In March 2009, 77% of respondents considered his government either excellent or good. The same poll showed that 5% of respondents thought his administration had been poor or very poor.[72] This approval rating was the Brazilian governors in their respective states.

Presidential campaigns[edit]

Potential candidacy for Presidency in 2010[edit]

Aecio Neves had been widely indicated as the possible candidate of the PSDB for the 2010 presidential elections, but was ultimately forced by his Party to stand aside in favour of Jose Serra, the Governor of São Paulo state.[73][74][75] Serra lost the 2010 presidential election to Dilma Rousseff [74][75][76]

Meanwhile, Neves having resigned the office of Governor of Minas Gerais in the last year of his second term in order to be legally able to run for the Senate, his Deputy Governor, Antônio Anastasia became Governor of Minas Gerais to finish the remaining nine months of Neves' term. With Neves' backing, the Anastasia then launched his candidacy for a term of his own as Governor of Minas Gerais. He took office on 1 January 2011 for a four-year term.

Candidacy for Presidency in 2014[edit]

In December 2012, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso appointed Aécio as the candidate from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party for the 2014 presidential elections.[77]

President of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party[edit]

On May 18, 2013, Aécio Neves was elected National PSDB president, replacing Congressman Sérgio Guerra. The Convention that elected Neves was one of the largest in the history of the party, with over 4,000 members present. Neves was elected with 97.3% of the votes.[78][79]

Aécio Neves at PSDB National Convention in 2013

Personal life[edit]

Neves was married to lawyer Andrea Falcão from 1991 to 1998. They had a daughter, Gabriela Falcão Neves, born in 1991. Neves is married to Leticia Weber. Leticia was born in 1979 in Panambi, Rio Grande do Sul. They formalized their marriage on October 9, 2013 at a ceremony with a few guests, held in an apartment that belongs to the mother of Neves in Rio de Janeiro. On January 17, 2014 Aécio announced that Leticia is pregnant.[80][81]


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Political offices
Preceded by
Itamar Franco
Governor of Minas Gerais
Succeeded by
Antônio Anastasia