Brazil des­per­ately needs re­form

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared the Washington Post:

Brazil’s po­lit­i­cal elite is be­ing eaten alive by cor­rup­tion scan­dals. The last three pres­i­dents have been ac­cused of tak­ing bribes, in­clud­ing in­cum­bent Michel Te­mer, who took of­fice last year fol­low­ing the im­peach­ment of his pre­de­ces­sor. The ever-ex­pand­ing scan­dal is a credit to the strength of Brazil’s ju­di­cial in­sti­tu­tions, and the house­clean­ing it is pro­duc­ing could ul­ti­mately strengthen the coun­try’s 32-year-old democ­racy. But that might not hap­pen if the scan­dal leads to chaos be­fore it can pro­duce des­per­ately needed re­forms. The 76-year-old Te­mer, an un­charis­matic con­ser­va­tive with a 5 per cent pub­lic ap­proval rat­ing, now stands at the cen­tre of that ques­tion.

Te­mer and a cen­trist con­gres­sional coali­tion were in the mid­dle of try­ing to push through a re­vamp­ing of so­cial se­cu­rity pay­ments and labour laws when the lat­est wave of scan­dal broke over them May 19.

Whether Te­mer now be­comes the sec­ond Brazil­ian pres­i­dent to be re­moved from of­fice in less than a year de­pends less on the ev­i­dence than the in­tri­ca­cies of pol­i­tics in Congress and the courts. Re­gard­less of who is pres­i­dent, Brazil will have a gov­ern­ment of du­bi­ous le­git­i­macy un­til the next elec­tion, which is not un­til the end of 2018.

The best out­come for the coun­try would be for the cen­trist par­ties to work with who­ever is in of­fice to com­plete pas­sage of the now-stalled re­form bills.

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