Michel Temer Aims to Restore Confidence in Brazil’s Economy

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/24/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, announced an array of proposals on Tuesday aimed at restoring confidence in the sickly economy of Latin America’s largest country.

Seeking to draw a contrast with Dilma Rousseff, the suspended leftist president whom Mr. Temer maneuvered to oust this month, he said he would try to repeal nationalist oil legislation, curb public spending and shut down a sovereign wealth fund.

Still, Mr. Temer’s televised briefing was light on detail as to how he planned to win approval in a fractious Congress for an array of measures like overhauling a crisis-ridden pension system that allows Brazilians to retire at an average age of 54.

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Lessons of the fall

Bello – The Economist, 05/21/2016

ON A bright and breezy morning in Brasília on May 12th, hours after the Senate had voted to start her impeachment for budgetary misdemeanours and thus suspend her as president, Dilma Rousseff walked down the front ramp of the Planalto palace to address a few hundred supporters of the Workers’ Party (PT). As she vowed defiance, behind her left shoulder stood Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, her predecessor as president and the PT’s founding leader. He looked downcast and pensive, several times wiping his brow and his eyes with a handkerchief. No doubt he was contemplating the probable end of more than 13 years of PT rule.

Behind Ms Rousseff’s impeachment lies a double political failure. The PT once claimed a monopoly on ethical politics; in the public mind, it is now identified with leading a scheme to loot Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, of more than $2.4 billion to fill its own campaign coffers and the back pockets of allies. And Ms Rousseff, whom Lula sold to the country as a top-notch manager, proved to be an incompetent steward of the economy.

So what went wrong for Latin America’s biggest left-wing party? The answer starts with the PT’s ideological ambiguity. Formed in 1980 by dissident trade unionists (such as Lula), radical priests, grassroots social movements and Marxist intellectuals, the PT claimed to be a new kind of party, of radical democracy and the dispossessed.

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How Brazil’s electoral system led the country into political crisis

Ryan Lloyd and Carlos Oliveira – The Washington Post, 05/25/2016

There’s a new twist in the already twisted saga of the Brazilian legislature’s attempt to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, who is currently suspended. On May 23, Brazil’s largest newspaper, the Folha de Sao Paulo,published a story about a leaked conversation between Planning Minister Romero Jucá — a key instigator of Rousseff’s suspension and an important political insider for the past 30 years — and Sérgio Machado, the former head of Transpetro (the transportation arm of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company).

In the audio clip, Jucá — who has since taken leave from his post in Michel Temer’s interim government, which stepped in for Rousseff — says clearly that impeachment was a way for a coalition of politicians to avoid being prosecuted for corruption. Rousseff was unwilling to protect these politicians, Jucá claimed. Removing her from office and forming a “national pact” to “stop the bleeding” would be the best way for them all to protect themselves.

Some media outlets suggest that Machado recorded conversations with other key players in Brazilian politics. If so, more leaks could put Temer in a still worse position. Temer worked actively behind the scenes to dethrone his predecessor, but doesn’t have popular support himself.

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Brazil’s Suspended President Dilma In It To Win It, But Probably Won’t

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 05/22/2016

Brazil’s recently suspended two-term president, Dilma Rousseff, told Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept on Thursday that she was going to fight impeachment until the bitter end. That end will most likely result in her being removed of her political rights for 10 years.

No date has been set for the Senate hearing on her impeachment. But when that day comes, she will have just 20 days to defend herself. The Senate will then have a maximum of 180 days to vote whether or not to officially remove Dilma from office. It’s not looking good. Supporters, who have seemingly come out of the woodwork in the days leading up to her impeachment in the lower house and even more so since her unpopular vice president Michel Temer took over, will be in for a harsh reality check. Warning: this story does not have a happy ending.

In the interview for The Intercept, Workers’ Party president Dilma reiterated that she would not resign and that she had some judicial recourse. She could, in theory, challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court. But considering the fact that Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski will oversee the Senate trial, her argument would only be won if the Supreme Court ruled against their own chief. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. She also failed to get an injunction to block the Senate vote and, worth nothing, over half the judges on the bench were appointed by her party.

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Michel Temer, Brazil’s Interim President, May Herald Shift to the Right

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/12/2016

BRASÍLIA — The new Brazilian president’s first pick for science minister was a creationist. He chose a soybean tycoon who has deforested large tracts of the Amazon rain forest to be his agriculture minister. And he is the first leader in decades to have no women in his cabinet at all.

The government of President Michel Temer — the 75-year-old lawyer who took the helm of Brazil on Thursday after Dilma Rousseff was suspended by the Senate to face an impeachment trial — could cause a significant shift to the political right in Latin America’s largest country.

“Temer’s government is starting out well,” Silas Malafaia, a television evangelist and author of best-selling books like “How to Defeat Satan’s Strategies,” wrote on Twitter.

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Brazil turns a page – What to expect of a Temer government

Thomas Kamm – Brunswick Group, 05/12/2016

After a wrenching battle and a last-ditch attempt to derail the whole process, Brazil has removed President Dilma Rousseff and is set to install Michel Temer in her place. Now comes the hard part: getting the country back on track. Mr. Temer is facing a wave of conflicting pressures that amount to a triple challenge to him and his government.

Brunswick Partner Thomas Kamm looks at these challenges faced by a Temer government and the likely steps to expect from him and Finance Minister-designate Henrique Meirelles.

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What next for Brazil? Long to-do list for new interim President

Tiffany Ap – CNN, 05/13/2016

Few would envy Michel Temer, who stepped in as Brazil’s acting President after the Senate voted to oust Dilma Rousseff.

While the next 180 days will be rough for Rousseff — she will have to face up to accusations that she broke budget laws — Temer has the immensely difficult task of winning back the trust of Brazilians.
Aside from juggling the precarious state of the Brazilian economy, Temer must deal with a Zika virus epidemic and a fraught 2016 Olympics.