As I am in Brazil at the moment I thought it was time to give you an update about the political situation here. Not least because many of you could do with a distraction from the political situation back in Blighty! The pain of others can sometimes divert you from thinking about the pain you are suffering yourself.
The immediate prompt for this update is the fact that former President Lula has just be handed a nine year sentence for corruption, related to the big Petrobras scandal that has engulfed the country for the last few years. Lula and his Worker`s Party claim that the accusations which led to the court case have not been proven and a lot of information which they say proves his innocence has been ignored. Furthermore they claim that this case, together with another four or five legal cases set to continue hitting him are all merely ruses to keep him from standing again for President in 2018 (he still leads the polls for next year`s election!)
Nevertheless he has today (yesterday for you by the time I have posted this Blog!) been sentenced to nine years and six months in prison for passive corruption and money laundering. For more details, feel free to click onto the Guardian article about the case – (url given below.)
Politicians in Brazil are mired in scandals at the moment, as you may have gathered from previous posts here. President Temer himself stands accused of, and has been charged with, personal corruption charges. As a sitting president however, there has to be a political discussion of his case before it can be taken forward to the Supreme Federal Tribunal (SFT), the only court that can actually try him.
Two thirds of the lower house have to vote “yes” to the question of whether to take his prosecution forward to the SFT. The speeches for and against this have been going on during the day today and there have been some impassioned arguments delivered from politicians who have been dismissed from their ministerial posts just because they had indicated they would vote against him and replaced with people who expressed their loyalty. So there has been political corruption over the original financial corruption.
Quite frankly the majority of elected `delegados` (MPs) probably need throwing out and a big new broom needs to sweep through politics here. Now, where have I heard that idea before?!?
As I said above, Lula is still leading the opinion polls for next year. A president is only allowed two consecutive terms but they are allowed to stand again after a break. Clearly the legal cases have weakened his position but he is not yet ruled out of contention. Indeed, he is not yet in prison since he has the right to appeal and is free until his appeal is heard. As you will have seen here before, his successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached last year for massaging the budget figures to mask the poor economic position before her re-election in 2014. Having been impeached she is also excluded from standing next year.
President Temer may yet escape being tried for the corruption charges he faces, because the numbers of his supporters in the House may be large enough for him to escape prosecution at the moment, but my judgement is that he is probably a broken reed as far as the wider electorate are concerned.
Not all that long ago Aecio Neves, leader of the PSDB party, who was runner up in the 2014 presidential election, was suspended from the Senate by the Supreme Court (STF) and his sister was sent to prison for about two months on corruption charges (she is now serving house arrest). Despite apparently strong evidence of his complicity the political vote has allowed Aecio Neves back into the Senate recently.
It is also as recent as March since Brazil`s former “speaker” was jailed for 15 years. Until he was suspended some time before that he was third in line to the presidency.
Talk about corruption reaching to the very top of the political pile. No-one would believe it if you wrote a novel about it!!
Just by the way, whilst I am on the subject of Brazilian politics, one of the reasons Temer is said to have colluded in the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff is that the right wing here (represented by Temer, who nevertheless stood alongside left wing Dilma as her Vice Presidential candidate in 2014 and is also therefore tainted by the government decisions for which Dilma was impeached!) wanted to “free” business managements from the dead hand of union politics. The current government has now, just yesterday, succeeded in passing a significant piece of legislation seriously weakening the position of workers here. This is broadly equivalent to the legislation that Mrs Thatcher`s government imposed on the UK back in the early 1980`s.
There is no doubt that businesses have been hampered by restrictive union practices here but in a country where there are around 14 million unemployed people, austerity is not going to be alleviated by the new freedoms to sack workers more easily. (That is about the population of all of Greater London and the population of Scotland added together, just for comparison, by the way.)
Lula – goo.gl/TRSThC
Temer – goo.gl/KdTzb3
Cunha – goo.gl/8yrgkn
Labour Laws – goo.gl/K4ENaZ