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.

The Curmudgeon, aka Michael Royster.
The Curmudgeon, aka Michael Royster.

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.


  1. Actually Henrique Meirelles may be a good choice to replace the ineffectual & over rated Levy. Levy does not understand the cultural dynamic that is a major factor in Brasil’s inflation conundrum. His chicago school’ cluelessness that drives him to raise taxes when the economy is tanking is ludicrous. The fiscal adjustment should be all about cutting pork like govt salaries, pensions to the upper middle class (sometimes 2 & 3), labor & tax reform, putting the fear of God in the syndicates, etc. All this requires political finesse, of which he has none.
    Sorry, but like it or not, Lula is the only person that has the soft skills to make it happen. If he has to pull the puppet strings for the country’s overall benefit, then the rest be damned. ‘Democracy’ only works in a highly educated society & neither Brasil or the US fits that definition…..Switzerland, Holland, Norway or Austria perhaps…….

  2. It’s such a nightmare for Brazilians.

    Politicians squabble over who calls the shots, while simultaneously running scared that their own overseas fortunes will be found.

    So none of these ratbags has time or inclination to restore investor and consumer confidence by making prudent adjustments to fiscal policy.

    The lawmakers not just sitting idly by while vast numbers of hard working Brasileiros sink back into poverty, with huge consequences for them and for Brazilian society and prosperity.

    Worse, politicians’ protracted inaction is also causing Brazil to become increasingly exposed to potentially disastrous consequences, should the country be unlucky enough to suffer a serious internal or external economic shock.

    And is any Brazilian feeling particularly lucky just right now? In the words of an old song, “Misfortune will never come single it’s plain” …..

  3. Lula would make things even worse, whatever he does. He is ideologically biased, and will reinforce the same economic policy that brought Brazil where it is now. No way he will cut state expenditure, because they way he aquires allies and support and accordingly power is through the good old increase of state expenditure. He will need even more money, there will be even higher inflation, interest rates etc Now Brazil just waits for commodity prices to start to grow again and that problems will dissapear themsleves. But until the everyone in the ruling class continues as before, and Brazilian people continue to suffer.


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