Brazil’s Temer Wins Key Austerity Vote as Protesters Resist

  • Senators approve base text of plan to freeze public spending
  • Vote passed with 61 votes in favor versus 14 against

The Brazilian government’s plan to freeze public spending in real terms for up to 20 years is on the verge of becoming law, after senators approved the controversial constitutional amendment late Tuesday evening.

QuickTake Brazil’s Highs and Lows

Senators voted 61 in favor to 14 against the proposal, well above the three-fifths majority the government needed. The lower house has already approved the bill and it now requires just one final vote in the Senate, scheduled for Dec. 13, before the constitutional amendment enters into force.

The cap on public spending is essential to President Michel Temer’s plans to haul Brazil out its worst recession in over a century. Latin America’s largest economy is currently running a near-record deficit of almost 10 percent of GDP. Inflation is still running well over target, at 7.87 percent and unemployment is close to 12 percent.

The voting result showed the government continues to enjoy an ample majority in the Senate after a former cabinet member dragged Temer into an influence-trafficking scandal, giving the opposition a reason to demand his impeachment.

“This vote puts to rest concerns about the strength of the coalition in Congress,” said Ronaldo Caiado, a senator from the government-allied Democratas Party. “This isn’t support for the government, it’s support for the country.”

As senators began their deliberations, thousands of protesters gathered outside Congress to protest the austerity measures. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds, some of whom hurled rocks and set fire to a car.

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