Cost of Loyalty Rises for Brazil’s Temer Ahead of New Charges

  • Prosecutor expected to charge President for a second time
  • Temer will need support of 172 deputies to block a trial

The second round of criminal charges against Brazil’s President Michel Temer hasn’t arrived yet, but the bill to spare him further investigation has.

Brazil’s chief prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot, is expected to formally charge the president in the coming days. To block a trial at the Supreme Court, Temer needs the votes of 172 out of the 513 members of the lower house. His allies are already making demands. Among them, that he fire a cabinet member and increase pork-barrel spending or critics may wind up on key congressional committees. While most observers believe Temer will survive again, it’s likely to come at a cost. 

Michel Temer

Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg

"A lot of deputies may want to take the opportunity to make peace with public opinion by voting against the president", says Lucio Vieira Lima, a congressman from Temer’s own PMDB party.

Government plans to rein in a huge budget deficit, privatize dozens of state-run enterprises and shake-up the country’s social security system could all be at risk. With his administration’s approval rating in single digits, the president personally lobbied legislators to shelve further investigation of the first corruption charge filed against him. But by doling out jobs and cash to deputies ahead of that August vote, Temer has already spent much of his political capital. The government is now running out of ammunition, according to one of his closest allies, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

To complicate matters further, many of Temer allies in Congress complain that the government has pursued an unpopular agenda and failed to address their demands. 

"The president won his battle in Congress, but his actions since then have not been supported by the house," said Marcos Montes, the leader of the allied PSD party. "The second round of charges will arrive at a bad moment."

Eurasia’s Joao Augusto de Castro Neves said the government will certainly have to make new concessions, but lawmakers realize the cost of removing Temer from power is higher. 

"The benefits of replacing Temer by someone from the same ideological spectrum is not clear. It’s much of a muchness," he said.

— With assistance by Mario Sergio Lima

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