Corruption is endemic in Brazilian politics; the Petrobras scandal exposed the extent to which this axiom is true. Just last week, the corruption scandal claimed another high-ranking Brazilian politician.
The former Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, was recently arrested on corruption charges. His arrest has thrown cold water on an upcoming vote in the Chamber on a spending cap measure. While the bill is expected to pass the Chamber and be sent to the Senate, the arrest of a powerful member of President Temer’s Partido do Movimento Democratico Brasileiro further undermines the legitimacy of the current administration and the Congress.
Recent polls show falling support for President Temer. A slim majority of Brazilians disapprove of how President Temer is governing and more than a third consider his government “bad” or “terrible.” Under normal circumstances, such numbers are concerning, but acceptable. However, the political landscape in Brazil is anything but normal.
President Temer ascended to the presidency when his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached and removed from office. Ms. Rousseff has called her ouster a “coup.” This characterization carries weight since many of the members of Congress that impeached and removed her on corruption charges were themselves under investigation for corruption, including the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros.
All of this comes during the worst economic downturn in Brazil since the 1930s. Although there is huge disagreement between conservatives and liberals as to how best to revive the economy and bring sustainable growth back to the country, none of the major parties have the credibility necessary to bring sustainable economic stability to Latin America’s largest country.