Brazil’s Temer Hangs-On amid Crisis

By Isaac Risco (dpa)

Brazilian president Michel Temer. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — His country has been shaken by a serious political crisis for the last few weeks, but Brazilian President, Michel Temer, won’t leave his position anytime soon, forced out by a court or giving into pressures to resign due to his corruption scandals.

“We will continue on without certainty in the political landscape with no way to overcome this crisis in sight,” an expert in Brazilian politics at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in Sao Paulo lamented, after Temer survived a hearing on Friday which was considered the fastest way to get him to resign.

The Superior Electoral Court (TSE) dismissed a case, by a vote of four to three, a suit demanding that the president be unseated due to the fact that the winning candidates in the 2014 elections – made up of former president Dilma Rousseff and Temer her vice-president – received illegal donations for their campaign.

“We cannot be changing the president of the Republic all the time, even if the people want to,” the court’s chief judge, Gilmar Mendes, said justifying his vote.

Although the trial isn’t linked to today’s institutional crisis, people have been waiting for days in Brazil for the ruling to help solve it. The 2014 denunciation mainly affected Temer after his predecessor was dismissed from her presidential duties in an impeachment trial last year.

The outcome also frustrated district attorneys involved in the Lavo Jato (Car Wash) mega-graft scheme which began to uncover the huge political corruption network in the South American giant, three years ago.

“Unfortunately, the power circles end up being led by interests. In the TSE case, we are seeing some judges deciding to close their eyes to the evidence,” criticized Deltan Dallagnol, one of the district attorneys in charge of Lavo Jato.

The TSE ruling seemed to be in favor against Temer, who is being attacked left, right and center ever since the corruption charges against him were made public three weeks ago.

“The ruling reinforces the president and increases the chances of him reaching the end of his term,” political expert Stuenkel told the dpa news agency. Temer should be president until December 31st 2018.

Meanwhile, the institutional crisis isn’t coming to a standstill. This week, new accusations against Temer arose, after the conservative leader contradicted himself when he first denied, and then admitted, that he used a private jet belonging to businessman Joesley Batista to travel with his family in 2011.

Batista, the owner of the largest meat producer in the world, the JBS meat processing company, unleashed a political storm when he accused Temer of having benefitted from receiving bribes from JBS for years.

Plus, public discontent with the president is increasing on the streets every day, where his leadership rating stands at just 9%.

“Even Temer’s advisors are recognizing the fact that he will be unpopular until the very end,” explains Stuenkel. “It is becoming more and more clear that we will live in permanent political instability until the next elections.”

However, the economic reforms which ensured the financial elite in the country’s support for Temer up until now might also be in danger.

Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product grew again in the first three months last year after eight consecutive quarters of negative growth (the built up recession was -7.4%), but fear that the paralysis will now stop pushing the economic reforms program forward in Parliament is beginning to spread among the Government’s allies.

“New evidence against the President could turn up any day,” Stuenkel told dpa. “This will make the Government think in the short-term and make the president a target which will weaken him in his negotiations with Congress,” he predicted.

With the country in permanent crisis and the political class discredited, others also fear that the 2018 elections will be the same explosive scenario.

Behind the current favorite in the polls, former president Luis Inacio Lula de Silva – who was also investigated for corruption – there is another candidate raising his head: the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro, who is frequently referred to as Brazil’s “Donald Trump”.

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