Brazil, Public Opinion, Coups, Elections and VP Michel Temer

April 26, 2016

With Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff facing a likely impeachment, Vice President Michel Temer has been in the spotlight as the likely successor. Last week Temer sat down for an interview with The Financial Times, categorically rejecting the idea that what is happening in Brazil is a coup. “There is no coup whatsoever happening here in Brazil,” Temer stated. He then points to public opinion being against Dilma as proof that it is not a coup. The Financial Times continues:

He said political and popular support for impeachment was also overwhelming, with 367 members of the 513-seat lower house of congress voting for the motion, well over the two-thirds, or 342 votes, required for it to pass, and polls showing 60 to 70 per cent of Brazilians were in favour of Ms Rousseff’s constitutional removal.

“Therefore, I ask, when she accuses me of being a conspirator or a coup-monger — do I really have the capacity to influence 367 deputies [congressmen] and 70 per cent of the Brazilian population? It’s entirely without foundation this claim.”

As long as the people support it! (I wonder how many in the U.S. would support the removal of congress, what with its current approval rating of 17 percent?)

Of course, Temer, unlike Dilma Rousseff, has actually been accused of corruption. A Supreme Court judge has recommended he also face impeachment trials for the same accounting tricks that Dilma is currently defending herself against. 

Since Temer seems to really care what the Brazilian people think, maybe he should check out the results of the latest poll from IBOPE. The AP reports:

A new poll Monday showed people overwhelmingly favored the hypothetical resignation of both Rousseff and Temer, followed by new presidential elections. Just over 60 percent of respondents said that scenario would be the best way out of the crisis, although no such solution is stipulated under Brazil’s constitution. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they would prefer to see Rousseff continue her mandate, while just 8 percent of respondents said Rousseff’s impeachment, followed by her substitution by Temer, would be their preferred solution.

As unpopular as Dilma may be, Temer appears even less popular. More people would prefer she continue her mandate than be replaced by Temer. Of course, the clear majority prefer new elections.

Today, Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo, reported that the Worker’s Party of Dilma Rousseff is considering supporting a proposal for a constitutional amendment that would allow for new elections to be held later this year, no matter how the impeachment proceedings shake out.

And how did Temer respond? By calling the proposal for new elections a coup!

To sum up: Temer doesn’t think what is currently happening is a coup, partially because so much of the population supports it. But virtually nobody wants Temer to simply take over as an unelected president and a majority of people prefer new elections. But, according to Temer, new elections would be the real coup. Let it sink in.

H/T Glenn Greenwald.

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