On Wednesday, October 25th, 2017, the Brazilian congress voted not to pursue corruption charges against President Michel Temer. The president and his supporters expected the results; over half of congress voted against going to trial and the President reached his required third of congress support in two hours. During the vote, Temer was hospitalized for a urinary obstruction but is expected to make a full recovery. According to lawmaker Celso Russomanno, a loyal supporter of Temer, “this accusation is fragile, inept and worse than the first one.” This vote comes less than 3 months after Temer avoided similar charges for bribery back in August. Still, Temer faces an uphill battle regaining the trust of his country.
Temer was appointed to the presidential office in 2016 after his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached and removed from office for financial responsibility crimes. As Vice President, Temer was a supporter of Rousseff before his own presidency and many believe the corruption of Rousseff has followed Temer into office. The prosecution in Brazil alleges that Temer’s political party, the Democratic Movement Party, is part of a larger corruption scheme, which they have called a cartel that sells favors to businessmen at expense of the Brazilian people. Currently, Temer has a three percent approval rating, making him the least popular political figure in Brazil.
Some are suspect though of why congress members voted the way they did. Days before the vote, Temer reduced fines for environmental crimes to appeal to congress members from agricultural areas. According to Contras Abertas, a watchdog group against corruption in Brazil, Temer also released large sums of money for congressional districts, possibly swaying the vote. However, the vote was aired on television so that voters could see how their representatives were voting.
Despite avoiding charges, Temer is still seen as untrustworthy and corrupt by many Brazilians. According to lawmaker Luiza Erundina, who voted against Temer, “I vote with more than ninety percent of Brazilians who have already convicted Temer’s corrupted administration.” Prosecution estimates that the Democratic Movement Party has taken up to 190 million dollars in bribes. Dozens of business people and politicians have been found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering connected to this case.
However, many Brazilians are growing tired of the corruption and find the situation hopeless. “I no longer care what is going to happen to Temer because everything will stay the same whether he stays or not in the presidency. Brazil will continue being ruled by thieves,” said Maria Ines Consta, a twenty-two year old nanny. Similarly, lawmaker Alessandro Molon, a Temer critic, said, “we are going to be stuck with a lame duck president for one more year. He is not getting what he wants from this Congress because of the elections. And we are not going to get an agenda that is good for Brazilians, who reject Temer.” Many expect Temer to finish his full term in December 2018 but that might not be for the best for Brazil. Currently, Brazil is at a standstill and sees no way out of the corruption.