Brazil’s president keeps job as congress votes against corruption charges

Lawmakers overwhelmingly oppose charges for Michel Temer despite broad popular support, as observers condemn insolvency of political system

The credibility of Brazils congress has been left in rags after its lower home overwhelmingly voted not to approve corruption charges against the president, Michel Temer even though 81% of his countrymen said in a recent poll that they should.

Temer was charged with corruption after a close aide was given $150,000 in cash part of $12 m in bribes attorneys allege he and the aide were due to receive after intervening in a business deal.

Two-thirds of the lower house had to approve the charges before the supreme court could confirm government decisions and suspend the president for up to 180 days for a corruption trial. But more than half of its deputies deputes voted for Temer, devoting him a clear victory, as had been widely expected, and saving his beleaguered presidency – at least for now.

I want to construct a better country for each Brazilian, pacified, simply, without detest or rancor. Our inexorable destiny is to be a great nation, Temer said in a victory address. I thank the Chamber of Deputies.

The decision arrived merely over a year after many of the same deputies voted to suspend Temers predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, for violating budget regulations charges that led to her eventual impeachment.

The allegations Temer faced were much more serious. He became the countrys first sitting head of state to be formally charged with international crimes after he and the aide were accused of accepting the promise of the undue advantage of millions in future payments.

And compounding the sense of travesty, according to research by Congress in Focus, a political site, at least 190 of the 513 deputies able to vote face criminal process at Brazils supreme court.

This shows the bankruptcy of the Brazilian political and electoral system, said Edson Sardinha, the sites editor.

The televised referendum late on Wednesday followed an intense explode of political manoeuvring. In June and July, the government agreed an extra$ 1bn-plus to deputies for projects in their home countries. On Tuesday, Temer met with lawmakers from a powerful agribusiness vestibule and his government announced a measure to reduce the pension contributions farmers make for workers.

This is what causes this sense of shame, told Paulo Baa, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. This is the politics of patrimonialism, of the exchange of favors, of private interests – and not of the public good.

As with last years vote against Rousseff, there was no shortfall of pantomime. Then, the conservative deputy Wladimir Costa fired off a confetti gun where reference is voted. During Wednesdays election, opposition deputies taunted the Temer tattoo Costa lately had placed on his shoulder, wearing Temer Out badges in the same place.

Temer is an ethical, transparent man, Costa said in a speech. According to Open Accounts, a Congress watchdog, Costas home state received $2.14 m in government funding in June and July.

Speaking before the vote, the opponent deputy Slvio Costa accused the government of constructing corruption official.

You need to think of your children, your grandchildren. You are dedicating a terrible instance to Brazil, he said.

An enormous grafting strategy at the state-run petroleum company Petrobras was first unveiled in 2014 and enveloped members of Rousseffs Workers party and its congressional allies.

But things have hardly improved since Temer took over. He lost six ministers to scandals last year, considered investigations into another eight agreed by a supreme court judge this year, and was then recorded during a secret meeting with a meat mogul fostering the blockage of investigations and recommending a close aide the executive heads could deal with.

That aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, was subsequently recorded intervening with an antitrust organ in a business dispute and filmed furtively exiting a So Paulo pizzeria with more than $150,000 in a suitcase. Brazils prosecutor-general alleged this, and a further $12 m, were attributed to Temer. Temers lawyer Antnio Mariz told lawmakers there was no evidence Temer ever received the money.

His government has vowed to carry on with an unpopular program of austerity measures it argues are essential to drag Brazil out of its recession and many lawmakers voting to preserve his presidency utilized this as an argument.

Yes to pension reform, yes to labour reform, yes to political reform, told Rubens Bueno, casting his vote before a microphone.

But at least one more charge for blockage of justice is expected. Meanwhile, a popular sense of disenchantment with Brazilian legislators is soaring. In a July poll for the Agora( now) political movement, 79% said they would like to see non-politicians stand in the 2018 presidential and congressional elections.

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