Brazil set to vote on removing second president in a year

Michel Temer confident he has the votes to defeat the effort to suspend him from office

Brazilian president Michel Temer is to be tried by the supreme court on corruption charges. Photograph:  Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

Brazilian president Michel Temer is to be tried by the supreme court on corruption charges. Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

 

Brazil’s lower house of congress is scheduled to vote on Wednesday on whether to remove a second president in little over a year.

But despite mounting accusations against him and a historically low approval rating, President Michel Temer is confident he has the votes to defeat the effort to suspend him from office while he is tried by the supreme court on corruption charges.

At least 342 members of the 513-deputy chamber must vote for suspension and the president’s supporters say they have the numbers to archive the accusation until after he leaves office on January 1st, 2019.

Rather than see Mr Temer win some opposition leaders have advocated staying away from Wednesday’s session in order to deny the government the quorum of 342 members necessary to start voting.

Today’s session comes 15 months after the same chamber voted overwhelming to impeach Dilma Rousseff, handing the presidency to Mr Temer who had served as her vice-president.

Removal

Since being charged in June, Mr Temer has showered cash on the personal projects of deputies in a bid to shore up support in the chamber. He has also quelled a movement among his own base to back his removal in order to install the chamber president Rodrigo Maia as his replacement.

But the president’s main challenge is getting deputies to declare their support for him. With his approval rating at 5 per cent many of Mr Temer’s supporters are reluctant to be seen publicly aiding him avoid trial when polls showing an overwhelming majority of Brazilians believe he is guilty as charged.

Mr Temer was accused of “passive corruption” by Brazil’s chief federal prosecutor Rodrigo Janot in June. It is the first time a serving Brazilian president has been charged with corruption while in office.

It follows the filming by police of a close aide of Mr Temer receiving a suitcase containing 500,000 reais (€135,000) in cash from a business executive. Prosecutors claim the money was part of a larger bribe destined for the president from billionaire Joesley Batista.

But even if Mr Temer succeeds in archiving the current charge against him Mr Janot says plans to bring further charges of criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice against him in the coming weeks, meaning the congress will likely have to repeat this week’s ritual in the next few months.