Meet Brazil’s Unexpected President

Ben Raderstorf and Michael Shifter – Slate, 05/25/2016

On April 11—as lawmakers began to weigh impeachment charges against Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff—the country’s vice president sent a curious recorded message to a group of legislators. In a 15-minute “address to the nation,” Michel Temer spoke as if he had just taken office as president. In a somber tone, he implored all Brazilians to pull together and face the challenges ahead.

 

The speech was comically premature. Aides would later claim that he had just been practicing on his cellphone and accidentally hit “send.” In any case, to many Brazilians it was clear evidence that he was conspiring to take his boss’ job.

 

Almost exactly a month later, that’s exactly what he did. The Senate opened the impeachment trial against Rousseff on charges that she violated budgetary and fiscal responsibility laws; in the meantime she has been suspended from office for 180 days. In accordance with the constitution, the vice president takes over on an interim basis.

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