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Highs and lows of Brazilian politics

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by Fausto Freire

The gods of politics have not been benevolent with Brazil lately. After the slow and painful process which culminated with president Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, Mr. Michel Temer’s replacement administration is not achieving politically sustainable results.

The ministerial question has been the government’s bone of contention. There are some who murmur about a “curse of the Chiefs-of-Staff”, referring to this official that acts as a kind-of prime minister, with less power, but with much force to appoint and dismiss collaborators. Many of them were involved in wrongdoings since 2003.

Articulation with Congress has been favorable to the government, as it was in the choosing of the new House and the Senate chairmen. Rousseff was not so lucky…or able. However, the ‘comfortable majority’ syndrome, where opposition may be weak, but the majority not necessarily follows the government’s guidance, has been one of Mr. Temer’s nightmares. In its own party, the PMDB, there have been rises and threats of disruption, usually related to dissatisfaction related to distribution of positions in the administration.

Another ghost is the cabinet of ministers’ composition . In eight months, Temer had eight of his ministers toppled over allegations of involvement in corruption. The recently appointed minister of External Relations is having his name questioned for the same reason. But all this is backdrop when compared to thereal menace to the President: Minister Padilha, current Chief-of-Staff, who has been targeted by consistent and probably unavoidable accusations.

From the very first month of his government, even before he officially became president, Michel Temer, saw three of his ministers being shot down on suspicion of corruption linked to Lava Jato investigations: Romero Jucá (Planning), Fabiano Silveira (Transparency) And Henrique Eduardo Alves (Tourism).

In the following months, other ministers fell and the president himself entered the list of suspects denounced by Odebrecht, together with at least six of his ministers: Eliseu Padilha (Chief-of-Staff), Moreira Franco (General Secretariat), José Serra (who is resigning as minister of External Relations) , Bruno Araújo, (Cities), Marcos Pereira, (Development), and Gilberto Kassab (Science and Technology).

Temer feels threatened. His destiny as well as his government’s destiny are at the hands of Judge Gilmar Mendes, chairman of the Superior Electoral Court. If he puts into trial the process for electoral crimes against the ticket Rousseff-Temer, the current president would probably lose his position. But would Judge Mendes do that?

While the Brazilian economy gives signs that it may recover sooner than expected, Temer’s govern has been shaken by constant shocks that hinder a more secure trajectory in the country’s recovery. A roller coaster of thrills with breathtaking climbs and falls that take the breath away of the most experienced observers.

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