What could happen in Brazil

Thousands of Brazilians march in the streets against the government of President Temer.
Thousands of Brazilians march in the streets against the government of President Temer. PHOTO: EPA

Brazilian President Michel Temer has insisted he will not resign even though his hold on office has become tenuous.

Here is a look at some of the scenarios likely in the near future.

FORCED TO QUIT

If his coalition allies abandon him, as some have started to do, Mr Temer would no longer have enough support to govern Brazil and pass the austerity measures badly needed to bring a gaping budget deficit under control. He would be forced to resign, which could happen as soon as next week.

The Speaker of the Lower House of Congress, Mr Rodrigo Maia, who is next in line of succession due to the absence of a vice-president, would take over until Congress elects a new president within 30 days to lead the country until the end of next year.

IMPEACHMENT

Four leftist opponents of his centre-right government have filed requests to open impeachment proceedings against Mr Temer for obstruction of justice. He would need more than one-third of the votes in the lower Chamber to block impeachment, which he may not have if his coalition continues to crumble.

An impeachment would take months, as happened last year with the ouster of Ms Dilma Rousseff. In the meantime, the political uncertainty would deepen Brazil's worst recession on record.

ELECTORAL COURT RULING

The biggest threat to Mr Temer's survival could be a ruling by Brazil's top electoral court annulling the results of the 2014 election won by the Rousseff-Temer ticket, for the use of illegal funds in the campaign. The court will start hearing the case on June 6 and its view is expected to be influenced by the country's need to resolve the political crisis.

Mr Temer's lawyers have argued that Ms Rousseff's campaign managers were responsible for under-the-table payments, as he was only her running mate.

SUPREME COURT PROBE

Brazil's top court opened an investigation on Thursday into the possible obstruction of justice by the President. If it indicts Mr Temer, he would have to step down. The Supreme Court usually takes more than a year to come up with its findings in such probes, and Mr Temer would likely survive till the end of his term.

EARLY ELECTIONS

Mr Temer's opponents, led by Ms Rousseff's Workers Party, which was ousted with her impeachment after 13 years in power, are calling for early elections to replace Mr Temer, whom they accuse of conspiring to replace Ms Rousseff when he was her vice-president.

Brazil's presidential system has no provision for calling elections before the end of the four-year presidential term, so this would require a constitutional amendment.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'What could happen in Brazil'. Print Edition | Subscribe