Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the Curmudgeon explained last year, the phrase “Fora Temer!” is best translated as “anyone but Temer”. You haven’t heard that cry much recently, and the main reason is that there’s nobody out there anyone really wants instead of Temer.
That’s not quite true — the true believers of PT and other leftist parties still want Lula back in power, even though he’s just been sentenced to nine-plus years in prison by crusading Judge Moro. The true believers refuse to admit that Lula knew anything about the Mensalão or Petrolão schemes, much less that he was their mastermind.
But to get Lula back in power there must be elections — direct elections by the people, not indirect elections, by Congress. That is not going to happen. Congress is now controlled by right wing politicians, who are about to pass very unpopular legislation, and they don’t want Lula spoiling their fun.
Recently there have been two attempted parliamentary coups. The first was an effort to have TSE, Brazil’s electoral tribunal, declare the 2014 election null and void by reason of proof of the use of undue influence (meaning corruption) by the winning ticket. Had TSE voted that way, Temer would be unseated, and a new election called within ninety days—an election where the only voters were members of Congress.
STF/TSE Justice Gilmar Mendes put the kibosh on that plan, assisted by the votes of two brand new TSE judges, both of whom were appointed by President Temer after promising not to throw him out into the street.
Plan A having failed, but with Temer’s approval ratings at an abysmally low seven percent, the Congressional powers have resurrected Plan B. Plan B is what was done to former President Dilma—Congress conducted a “vote of no confidence” in Dilma’s regime, which they mendaciously called impeachment proceedings, and threw her out.
In theory, Congress is now considering the question of whether it will permit President Temer to be tried by the STF for corruption. If 342 federal deputies vote to permit the trial to go ahead, Temer must step down for 180 days, to be succeeded automatically by Rodrigo Maia, now President of the Chamber of Deputies. No election needed.
In reality, of course, the vote is whether 342 federal deputies still believe the Temer administration can push their program forward (“confidence”), or whether they would prefer one of their own to lead the charge (“no confidence”).
Rodrigo Maia, son of Rio’s former mayor César Maia, is publicly sitting on the fence, while surreptitiously lining up votes to take over power. Temer is openly exploiting Brazil’s spoils system, attempting to buy enough votes to stay in power. In Elio Gaspari’s phrase, “6 of one for 5½ of another” is what’s being haggled over.
The answer to the question in the title of this opinion is obvious.
The people of Brazil, dismayed by the shameless behavior of their elected representatives, have for the most part kept quiet, stunned into inaction. The people of Brazil know that Congress now has absolute power, and they know that Congress is absolutely corrupt. The people of Brazil know that no one represents them.