Earth & Conservation

Is Brazil's New President Corrupt?

Brazil's new president, Michel Temer, recently chose an all-white male cabinet. Is his choice a step backward for the country?

In the run-up to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, Brazil is facing a leadership crisis unlike any in the country's history.

Brazil's new interim president, Michel Temer, took office on May 12, when former leader Dilma Rousseff was removed from office to face impeachment proceedings. Rousseff was facing record low approval ratings when she left office -- impeachment tends to be rough on the poll numbers. But incredibly, Temer is even less popular with Brazilians.

So who is Brazil's new president? Jules Suzdaltsev digs into that question in today's Seeker Daily dispatch. Until very recently, Temer was vice president in the coalition government assembled under Rousseff. A long-time constitutional law professor, he also served as president of the centrist Brazil Democratic Movement Party.

Temer was a driving force behind the push to impeach Rousseff on corruption charges. She's since called him a traitor and termed his actions a political coup. However, Temer himself has been linked to corruption, specifically the Petrobras oil graft scandal. In fact, Temer was recently barred from running for president for eight years due to campaign finance offenses.

That's just as well, as a recent poll showed that only two percent of Brazilians would vote for him anyway. And yet, despite those numbers -- and the ban on actually running for the presidency -- Temer is in fact president of Brazil, a turn of events which makes many people nervous.

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There's also the matter of Temer's personal comportment. The interim president's cold, formal demeanor has been described as similar to "a butler in a horror movie." His cabinet choices have been criticized, as well. His justice minister has a history of going after reformers and activists, his initial choice for science minister is a creationist preacher, and his sports minister is a businessman with a financial stake in the upcoming Olympic Games.

Both domestically and internationally, Temer is perceived as being squarely in the middle of Brazil's current government corruption crisis -- more than half of the country's Senate is under investigation. Since former president Rousseff has little chance of reclaiming the office, Temer is likely to stay in power until new elections are held in 2018.

-- Glenn McDonald

Learn More:

New York Times: Brazil's Vice President, Unpopular and Under Scrutiny, Prepares to Lead

Forbes: Brazil's New President Michel Temer Fills Cabinet With Only White Men

National Post: Meet Brazil's new cabinet: the science minister is a creationist, agriculture minister deforested the Amazon

BBC: Michel Temer: The man who now leads Brazil