Two weeks is a understatement. If things remain as they are, even senators from the ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) agree that the government will not survive the end of its term.
The statement above, from a PMDB member inside the presidential palace — Palácio do Planalto — remains valid, regardless of the timeframe. Even before its inauguration, acting president Michel Temer’s government was criticized and deeply involved in accusations of corruption and controversies.
The first action taken by the interim president was to form a cabinet devoid of black people or women, and predominantly composed of white men, nine of whom have been named in the widening Petrobas coruption and money laundering scandal investigation, Operation Car Wash. To be specific: two cabinet members are being investigated and seven have been mentioned in plea bargaining sessions. One of them — Romero Jucá, Minister of Planning, was removed from office 10 days after his appointment.
The constant squabbles with ousted president Dilma Rousseff and the appointment for the Secretariat of Women of Fatima Pelaes, who is against abortion even in cases of rape and is involved in her own corruption scandals, further damaged the image of the already floundering interim government.
Recently approved salary raises for employees of the country’s judiciary system was considered the first defeat of the main figure of Temer’s cabinet, the Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles.
Although assuring that there will be resources to cover the extra expenses, Meirelles complained that, in a moment when everyone is asked to cut their expenses, the government allows an increase of R$56 billion to its budget.
But the main concern is the Operation Car Wash investigations, which continue to destabilize Temer’s already wobbly government.
The arrest warrants for Romero Jucá, the Senate President Renan Calheiros (PMDB-AL), the ousted Speaker of the Lower House of Congress Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), and former president José Sarney show that the walls are quickly closing in on Temer’s government.
According to one PMDB senator, when the Operation Car Wash enters the Executive branch of the government, the damage will be hard to control. Both Temer’s Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha and the Secretary of the Presidency Geddel Vieira de Lima are cited in the operation.
Lately, some of Temer’s allies have expressed confusion regarding the interim president’s governing style and decision-making.
He says that costs must be reduced and at the same time he supports the Judiciary’s salary raise; he removes Jucá from office, but keeps Henrique Eduardo Alves as the Minister of Tourism, even when the Attorney General Rodrigo Janot officially stated, for the first time, that the minister’s campaign received money illegally obtained from Petrobras.
Embroiled in the internal conflicts his newly organized government faces every day, Temer has appeared ill-equipped to deal with the country’s political landscape in a broad sense. The longtime politician is considered a politically savvy ruler, but he lacks the expertise of politics in a larger sense. He is accustomed to operating in small political circles and behind closed doors.
The country needs to take a leap forward. The country needs a leader who is capable of tackling the many social, political and economic crises at its doorstop.
Author: Grasielle Castro