One year ago, Brazil’s political establishment was imploding due to a major political crisis. The economy was in bad shape and then-President Dilma Rousseff gave no signs that she could overcome the challenges facing her administration. It was bad, don’t get me wrong. But somehow, our current situation seems worse than it was during the impeachment crisis.
When millions of people took to the streets to demand the ousting of President Michel Temer, we knew what would come next. For better or worse, it was a positive thing to know, for sure, what the next chapter would be. Now, the country seems less divided about what it wants. Michel Temer managed to create some sort of consensus among the left and the right. Everybody wants him gone.
But what comes next?
According to the Constitution, Brazil must hold new, indirect elections to choose its new head of state. The only people allowed to vote are the members of Congress. Currently, one-third of the Senate is under federal investigation. And, out of the House’s 513 representatives, 299 have had encounters with the law.
Not exactly the most upstanding bunch.
Elio Gaspari, a respected Brazilian journalist and political pundit, remembered in a Sunday column other episodes in which Brazil faced a similar conundrum. In 1954, Café Filho took over when then-President Getulio Vargas killed himself. New elections were scheduled for 1955. Café Filho tried, unsuccessfully, to annul them and stay in power.
Ten years later, the military (with the support of economic elites) staged a coup to install what was meant to be a temporary government. The generals would conduct general elections in 1965, but stayed in power for 21 years.
The markets want Henrique Meirelles to replace Temer. He is a famous banker with political experience. But let’s not forget that he was at the helm of J&F, the company which controls JBS – the same company responsible for the current crisis. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that Meirelles would win in an indirect election.
Meanwhile, Temer presents himself as the sole alternative to the abyss. The worst part is that he might be right.
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