Brazil is on track to lose its second president in a year to corruption allegations.
Temer replaced ex-President Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached in late 2016 on charges ranging from flouting budget rules to criminal irresponsibility for corruption at the state-oil company Petrobras when she was president of its board of directors.
Brazil’s Operation Car Wash investigation has implicated scores of other politicians in the corruption ring, including the powerful ex-house speaker Eduardo Cunha, who engineered Rousseff’s ouster. “Operation Car Wash: Is this the biggest corruption scandal in history?” asked a recent Guardian headline.
Rousseff’s mentor, the once-popular ex-President Lula da Silva is now in court on charges of accepting bribes in the Car Wash scandal, too. Barred from running for a consecutive term, Lula has expressed interest in running again now that he is eligible. He is leading in the polls, reported Bloomberg, citing Brazilian media.
The corruption charges against Temer spell potential instability throughout Brazil because they will likely trigger another grueling impeachment process, NPR explained. A two-thirds majority in the lower house of Congress could suspend Temer for as long as 180 days as he faced charges in Brazil’s Supreme Court.
Temer has vowed to fight, the Associated Press wrote. “I say without fear of being wrong that the accusation is fiction,” he said, labelling the prosecutor’s case “a soap opera plot.”
But Temer was already under investigation for allegedly giving the thumbs up to obstructing a criminal investigation at the behest of Joesley Batista, scion of a mega-rich food conglomerate. His approval rating stands at a dismal 7 percent.
It’s not clear if the Brazilian government can operate while withstanding numerous impeachment votes on different criminal charges, the New York Times noted.
But then again, many members of Congress are also under investigation, so everyone is in the same boat. Counter-intuitively, that situation could help Temer push through an austerity plan that he says is vital to jumpstarting Brazil’s economy, Brazilian Political Scientist Marcus Melo told the Times.
“He is a lame duck, but incredible as it sounds, he can count on this base because they, too, are implicated in many things,” said Melo.