He’s the man of the moment in Brazil, but relatively unknown on the international stage.
Michel Temer has taken the reins as president, for an as-yet unspecified term. The one-time head of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party – PMDB – has vowed to tackle the economic slump.
In a nod to the promise of austerity, he cut cabinet posts from 31 to 22, unveiling his new, white, all-male administration on his first day in the job.
A controversial figure, Temer came to office when the now-suspended President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected in 2014, but recently joined the pro-impeachment camp against the Workers’ Party leader.
“Trust me” he appealed in his first presidential speech. But, tainted by corruption allegations linked to state-run oil company Petrobras, his ratings appear almost as low as Rousseff’s, leaving many wondering where he will go from here.
Maria Barradas:“Andrei Netto is the correspondent of Estadão, the Brazilian newspaper. Are the conditions right for Michel Temer to govern legitimately?”
Andrei Netto: “In the parliament yes, Michel Temer has the conditions to govern because he has a wide enough support base, with the PMDB and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, PSDB, the center right, and a few small parties which also support his government.
‘On the other hand there is a question of legitimacy, and these are the issues today in Brazil, at the moment, a huge part of Brazilian society, is questioning if Michel Temer has the legitimacy to exercise power.
Euronews: “The international press talks about a paradox, considering that Temer is a suspect in several corruption trials and could himself be the subject of an impeachment procedure.”
Andrei Netto: “There is currently an impeachment procedure against Michel Temer which is underway in the Chamber of Deputies, and it is also true that there are certain “situations” in relation to the Vice-President in the Lava Jato or Car Wash investigation, which is a kind of Brazilian version of the Clean Hands operation.
‘Michel Temer is a person who currently is not among the worst affected at the heart of centrist party the PMDB which he represents.There are more names implicated in these corruption scandals such as the former President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha, or that of the president of the senate Renan Calheiros and also six new ministers brought into the government by Michel Temer.”
Euronews: “Michel Temer must consistently get results in the next six months and notably must start to consolidate public accounts and reverse the country’s worst recession in the last 30 years. Are the conditions there for him to do that?”
Andrei Netto: “Paradoxically I would say that this is not one Michel Temer’s biggest problems. This is because the Brazilian economy had got to such a point in the last two years that a recovery is almost inevitable, negative growth was almost 4% last year, during Dilma Rousseff’s tenure.
‘But in addition, it’s true that Michel Temer has chosen Henrique Meirelles as finance minister who is an extremely experienced man. He was at the Central Bank of Brazil during the term of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, where he was a great success and he is a man capable of balancing the public accounts.”
Euronews: “How do you think Brazilians will react if Michel Temer does not begin to achieve visible results very quickly?”
Andrei Netto: “If Michel Temer manages to balance the public accounts, boost growth and reduce unemployment, it is possible that form these measures will emerge a period of grace, and popular support that could legitimise Michel Temer.
‘On the contrary, I doubt that Michel Temer will be faced with big and growing opposition on the streets during the next few months. So the next six months will be crucial this political crisis which is not over yet, but continues in Brazil.”
Euronews: “What consequences do you think this political crisis will have for Brazil internationally notably for the forthcoming Olympic Games?”
Andrei Netto: “Maybe there will be a small impact or a considerable impact on the Olympics because Brazil’s image outside the county is damaged.
‘But what concerns me is not something in relation to the Olympics, but Brazil’s position in the international financial institutions. Let us remember for example that presidents such as Barack Obama of the United States, or François Hollande in France, have not congratulated Michel Temer, have not contacted the sitting vice-president who is now president that shows a certain reluctance, a delay, a policy of waiting by the international community to see how the political crisis in Brazil will develop.”