Brazil Update: One Month into a Michel Temer Government

Luisa Leme – AS/COA, 06/17/2016

It’s just over a month since Brazil’s Senate suspended Dilma Rousseff for 180 days to hold an impeachment trial. Since then, the government of interim President Michel Temer has chosen a path that focuses on cutting spending on social policies to improve the country’s fiscal situation in the hopes of recovering investors’ trust. Temer took office May 12 and introduced an economic team led by Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, who promised to “save the country” from its crisis while preserving Brazilian institutions and anticorruption efforts.

But many of the interim government’s decisions have been met with a backlash from voters, the judiciary, and even its own team. Temer not only picked an all-male cabinet, but 15 of the 26 ministers he selected face criminal investigations, with nine of them linked to the Lava Jato corruption scandal.

On top of that, two ministers had to leave their posts afterleaked recordings revealed they planned to use the impeachment process to halt corruption investigations, while the tourism minister resigned today due to links to Lava Jato. Temer himself was also linked to Lava Jato after the former president of the state-run oil transportation company Transpetro accused him of asking for kickbacksfor a mayoral candidate of Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). The São Paulo electoral court declared Temer ineligible for future office, based on the country’s clean record law, as he was convicted of exceeding donation limits for political campaigns.

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The Political Future of Brazil’s ‘Frank Underwood’

Marina Koren – The Atlantic, 06/15/2016

Two months ago, Eduardo Cunha was leading the impeachment movement that would temporarily unseat Dilma Rousseff, banishing her to the presidential palace to prepare for a trial while her vice president took over her job. Now, Cunha is facing his own fight for his political future.

Brazil’s congressional ethics committee on Tuesday voted in favor of removing Cunha from his seat in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Brazil’s congress. The decision arose from corruption allegations against Cunha, a member of the now-ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) who has been described as Rousseff’s “political nemesis.” In May, just one week before Rousseff’s decisive impeachment vote, the country’s Supreme Court suspended Cunha from his position as speaker of the house, at the request of the attorney general, for using his high-ranking role to obstruct ethics committee hearings and intimidate lawmakers.

Cunha said he would appeal the decision to another congressional committee. The full chamber will now vote on the ethics committee’s recommendation, which would require an absolute majority of members—257 of 513—to pass. If legislators vote to kick Cunha out, the chamber would hold elections for a new speaker; Waldir Maranhao, a member of the Progressive Party and a Cunha ally, currently holds the position on an interim basis. And Cunha, dubbed the “Frank Underwood of Brazil” by Western media for spearheading House of Cards-esque impeachment proceedings, would be barred from running for political office for eight years.

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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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Brazilian public favors new presidential election

Reed Johnson and Marla Dickerson – The Wall Street Journal, 04/10/2016

 

SÃO PAULO—With just a week remaining until a key congressional vote that could move Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff closer to impeachment, new polling data show that the public most favors an option that isn’t even on the table: new presidential elections.

Most Brazilians surveyed by the Datafolha polling agency last week said they would like to see the exit of both Ms. Rousseff and her equally unpopular potential successor, Vice President Michel Temer. In the event of their removal, 79% of respondents said they would like to cast ballots in a new presidential election, in hopes of ending the nation’s political crisis.

The new data underscore the Brazilian public’s deep dissatisfaction with Ms. Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party as well as with the opposition parties that are looking to assume power. The data also highlight voters’ conflicted feelings about an impeachment process that has become embroiled in partisan mudslinging and accusations of dirty tricks by both pro- and antigovernment forces.

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Brazil’s largest party to leave governing coalition

Katy Barnato – CNBC , 03/29/2016

Brazil’s political system is set to spin further out of control Tuesday as the biggest party in the Senate quits the ruling coalition, a move that will hike the odds on President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.

The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) announced Tuesday, as expected, it would pull six ministers from Rousseff’s Cabinet, ordering them to either resign or face ethics proceedings, Reuters reported Tuesday. If Rousseff is impeached, it would put Vice President Michel Temer, leader of the PMDB, next in line for the presidency, Reuters said.

Analysts are divided as to how Brazil’s economy and political situation might fare in the wake.

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Brazilian Real rises on speculation government allies splitting

Paulo Sambo – Bloomberg, 03/28/2016

Brazil’s real advanced amid increasing speculation that an impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff is getting closer as her political allies fall away.

Traders pushed up the value of the Brazilian currency amid reports that the biggest party in Congress may leave the governing coalition as soon as Tuesday. The PMDB’s decision to split with the government may prompt other parties to follow, further reducing the government’s support. The real added 1 percent to 3.6427 per dollar at 9:59 a.m. in Sao Paulo The currency has gained 8.7 percent this year, the most among its most-traded counterparts.

“The prospect of PMDB and other parties splitting with the government is boosting Brazilian assets today,” said Eduardo Longo, who helps manage 23 billion reais as a fixed-income portfolio manager at Quantitas, in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

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Brazil’s Vice President sends letter criticizing President Dilma Rousseff

Paulo Trevisani & Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 12/8/2015

BRASÍLIA—Brazil’s already turbulent political situation took an extraordinary turn Tuesday with the publication of a letter sent by Vice President Michel Temer to embattled President Dilma Rousseff in which Mr. Temer accuses the president of having no confidence in him or his party.

The vice president’s authorship of the letter, which was published in several local newspapers Tuesday, was confirmed by Mr. Temer’s spokesman. The president’s press office had no immediate comment on the letter.

Ms. Rousseff is facing an impeachment process that the president of the lower house of Brazil’s Congress, Eduardo Cunha, approved last week. Ms. Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating the numbers in the national budget; she has said her administration did nothing wrong.

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In Brazil, the ‘coup’ continues as vice pres considers opposition

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 7/21/2015

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff stands alone. Her approval rating is 7%. Her vice president is considering joining the opposition in 2018.

At this point, why wait? After veep Michel Temer of the Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) said Tuesday that his part — of which he is top banana — will look for a presidential candidate to challenge Dilma’s Workers’ Party (PT) in the next election. This is no different than Joe Biden telling Democrats that they’d be wise not to vote for the president, or his party, in three years’ time.

Temer said his party would oppose the ruling Workers’ Party today during a speech at Cornell University in New York, a city full of investors who probably share his newfound disdain for his boss — Brazil’s first female president, Dilma. On Tuesday, polling firm MDA said that just 1.5% of the population surveyed considered her government a good one. This is the lowest she and the PT have been in the 13 years they’ve been in power.

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