Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Aristotle is said to have coined the phrase “Nature abhors a vacuum”. Down the years, political scientists have denatured the phrase to define “power vacuum” as a situation where people have lost control of something and no one has replaced them.
Dilma has clearly lost control of Brazil’s government, and as yet no one has replaced her; however, there is no shortage of politicians who abhor the vacuum and seek to step into it as her successor.
Back in August, when pressure was mounting on Dilma to resign, Vice President Temer obliquely declared himself a candidate to fill the void by saying the country needed someone to bring it together. That trial balloon was aided by the movement to impeach Dilma, which hasn’t gathered momentum.
PSDB, defeated candidate Aécio’s party, filed a lawsuit with the TSE seeking to declare the Dilma/Temer ticket, ex post facto, ineligible to take office because of election campaign irregularities. That would result in new elections being called within 90 days, which Aécio fully expected to win. But TSE is sitting on the suit and doing nothing.
Cunha, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, then made his attempt, by declaring himself in opposition to Dilma and trying to create his own legislative agenda while torpedoing Dilma’s programs. Unfortunately for him, investigators have found his offshore fortune so his chances look slim.
Former President Lula has now made a bold attempt to reimpose himself on Brazil. For starters, he wants Dilma to replace Finance Minister Levy with his puppet banker Henrique Meirelles. Moreover, Lula has staked out a position critical of Dilma’s austerity program.
Dilma resists: she won’t resign; she has put Temer out to Vice Presidential pasture; impeachment efforts languish while Cunha twists in the wind. But Lula’s latest ploy may yet work, because he’ll let Dilma continue in office while he pulls the puppet strings.
In the meantime, the “horror vacui” continues while the ethical horrorshow that is Brazilian politics grows more abhorrent daily.
The Curmudgeon lives in hope but still writes dismal Smidgens.