A vote to allow President Michel Temer to be tried on corruption charges failed to muster enough support in the Chamber of Deputies. The vote on Wednesday in the lower chamber of Brazil’s Federal Congress was 251 in support of Temer and 233 against.
The vote to try the president on charges of obstruction of justice and leading a criminal organization was similar to a vote in August to try him on bribery charges, which also failed to pass the Chamber.
As The Guardian reports, the charges against Temer stem from a massive corruption scandal called Operation Car Wash which began in March 2014. Prosecutors allege that politicians from all political parties traded favors, votes, and appointments for bribes.
They believe that Temer has been at the head of the corruption scheme since he came to power after his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached and removed from office on August 31, 2016.
In the 14 months since becoming head of state, prosecutors believe that Temer and his party have received about $190 million in bribes.
The failure of the Chamber to hold Temer accountable for corruption can be partially attributed to the scope of the corruption scandal embroiling Brazil, argues Matthew Taylor, associate professor at the School of International Service at American University.
“As you look at Congress and you recognize that somewhere between a third and a half of Congress is implicated in scandal, there aren’t many other people who have a national profile who could govern at this point,” Taylor said.
Members of the opposition attempted to delay the vote until the evening when more Brazilians would be able to watch the voting on television. A tactic they used when the Chamber held a similar vote in the summer.
By ensuring that voting took place when the most citizens would be watching, opposition politicians were hoping to tie the president’s supporters to his unpopular presidency. President Temer’s approval rating is about 3 percent.
After the latest failure, some members of the opposition have resigned themselves to the fact that President Temer may remain in office for his full term. “We are going to be stuck with a lame duck president for one more year,” Congressman Alessandro Molon, who voted against Temer, said. “He is not getting what he wants from this Congress because of the elections. And we are not going to get an agenda that is good for Brazilians, who reject Temer.”
General elections will be held in Brazil in October 2018. President Temer has said that he will not run for president. All members of the Chamber of Deputies will be up for reelection.
Corruption is a top concern for Brazilians
A recent survey found that Brazilians feel most worried about corruption, reported the Associated Press. In the survey published on Tuesday by Datafolha, respondents said that violence is the second biggest worry, followed by poverty and environmental degradation.
Brazil has been a party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption since 2005. The Convention lays out measures for countries to take in order to combat and prevent corruption at the national and international level.
The Convention draws a direct link between corruption and under development. “Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a Government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.”