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Tue May 23, 2017, 11:55 PM

The Guardian view on Brazilian corruption: the public deserve a voice


The explosive allegations faced by Brazil’s president Michel Temer are just the latest manifestation of a sprawling scandal. A quick political fix will not solve the problems

Tuesday 23 May 2017 14.16 EDT

“I not resign. Oust me if you want,” Michel Temer said this week. Brazilians would like to take the president at his word. After three years of political turmoil and public disgust, the “Carwash” investigation into corruption that involved some of the country’s biggest companies and a frightening number of its politicians was under growing pressure; some feared it was being neutered. Then came explosive allegations that a secret tape captured Mr Temer discussing hush-money. His ratings had fallen to single figures even before these latest claims. Now Brazil’s top prosecutor has formally accused him of conspiring to silence witnesses and obstruct a corruption investigation; and he has dropped a legal bid to have the case suspended.

Mr Temer denies wrongdoing, insisting the recording has been doctored, and says stepping down would be an admission of guilt. Other considerations are no doubt weighing on his mind – notably that he would lose legal protections. As president, impeachment would require approval by Congress to proceed, and he cannot be charged over allegations that precede his time in office. Support within his Brazilian Democratic Party and coalition is crumbling. Allies can see the attractions of letting him take the flak for weakening the Carwash inquiry, and handle a case beginning next month in the supreme electoral court, which could annul the 2014 election. But even so, Brazil could soon have its third leader in under a year.

Brazilian politics have been thoroughly discredited. The revelations that have emerged since Dilma Rousseff was forced out last year have highlighted the hypocrisy of those who brought her down. Though Ms Rousseff was impeached on separate charges, and appeared relatively clean herself, the anger against her was fuelled by revelations about her Workers’ Party. In March, the chief orchestrator of her impeachment, Eduardo Cunha, was jailed for more than 15 years in relation to a $1.6m bribe. The tape of Mr Temer, who was her deputy but was believed to be plotting against her in the later stages of the scandal, allegedly captures him approving cash payments to Mr Cunha.


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