* Tourism minister is fifth to quit cabinet this year
* Action reminder of Rousseff government's vulnerability
* Unlikely to affect preparations for 2014 World Cup
(Recasts, adds detail, quote, byline)
By Hugo Bachega and Raymond Colitt
BRASILIA, Sept 14 Brazil's tourism minister
resigned on Wednesday over allegations of ethics violations, a
departure that President Dilma Rousseff hopes will signal the
end of months of scandals and negative headlines.
The resignation of Pedro Novais -- the fifth cabinet member
to resign in just over three months -- is a reminder of the
political volatility that has undermined Rousseff's
administration as she struggles to contain unrest within her
ruling coalition stemming partly from fiscal belt-tightening.
But Novais' departure is likely to bring some relief to
Rousseff as she tries to distance herself from the corrupt,
sleazy style of politics that has been portrayed by a series of
media reports on the Tourism Ministry under Novais' command.
A steady stream of scandal allegations has eased in recent
weeks as Rousseff has moved to patch up relations with her
biggest coalition partner, the PMDB, of which Novais is a
In August, police arrested 33 Tourism Ministry officials
and entrepreneurs in a corruption sweep tied to funding for
major sports events [ID:nN1E7781XF].
Novais also made headlines for allegedly having claimed
payments made at a sex motel as official expenses.
In the latest allegation against him, Novais was accused in
newspaper reports this week of having used public funds to
employ a maid and a chauffeur for his wife while he was
congressman from 2003 to 2010.
Budget cuts ordered by Rousseff earlier this year to stem
inflation have starved lawmakers of funds and aggravated a
series of ethics scandals that resulted in the resignation of
the five ministers in just over three months.
Upset with Rousseff's tough stance on the budget and
corruption, several allies openly boycotted her legislative
agenda for several days in July. They demanded an increase in
discretionary funds for legislators and more appointments to
lucrative government jobs for their parties.
But the latest resignation could boost Rousseff's control
over the often rebellious PMDB, which risks losing support
among middle-class voters who are growing tired of corruption
allegations. Three of the five disgraced ministers belonged to
Unlike her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who
often turned a blind eye to corruption allegations for the sake
of maintaining political support, Rousseff has shown less
tolerance for nepotism and wrongdoing.
She has sought to appoint more technocrats like herself
rather than politicians to second-tier positions in government,
another sore point for her coalition allies.
All five of the ministers who stepped down since June were
either nominated by Lula or recommended by Rousseff's allies as
part of a power-sharing agreement.
Novais' departure is unlikely to significantly change
Brazil's preparations for the 2014 soccer World Cup or the
Olympics to be hosted in Rio de Janeiro two years later.
(Reporting by Hugo Bachega and Raymond Colitt; Editing by
Stuart Grudgings and Bill Trott)