Brazilian Supreme Court lashes out at Temer 'snooping'

The electoral court, known as the TSE, voted 4-3 to acquit the Rousseff-Temer ticket, avoiding the annulment of their election and the removal of Temer from office, who took over from Rousseff a year ago in the midst of Brazil's worst recession.

The court voted 4-3 to acquit the Rousseff-Temer ticket, avoiding the removal of Temer, who has been besieged by economic recession and corruption scandals since replacing Rousseff past year.

The verdict spared recession-ravaged Brazil its second leadership crisis in 14 months, following the impeachment of leftist president Dilma Rousseff previous year and her replacement by her then-vice president Temer.

Casting the deciding 4-3 vote after four days of deliberation, Gilmar Mendes, chief judge of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, said: "You don't switch the president of the republic every hour".

Judge Luiz Fux, who voted to remove Temer, said the campaign finance allegations were "very serious crimes".

Dozens of Brazilian congressmen and large swaths of Temer's own cabinet have been identified in the ongoing Operation Car Wash investigations that have rocked nearly every facet of Brazilian politics over the past three years.

The court's decision will buy Temer some time to address allegations of corruption and influence-trafficking that surfaced last month and prompted calls for his resignation or impeachment.

The case against Temer was bolstered after dozens of current and former executives at the construction company Odebrecht provided details about millions of dollars in bribes and illegal campaign donations as part of a plea-bargain.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot alleges that Temer agreed to payments of hush money to former lower house of Congress speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is in prison for corruption.

But nobody really knows the rules of this kind of election because it has never happened before.

According to the Brazilian constitution, if there are fewer than two years left in a term, Congress will choose a caretaker president to govern until the next elections, due in 2018.

Temer was Rouseseff's vice-presidential candidate in 2014 and became president after Rousseff was removed in 2016 for borrowing money from state-owned banks to pay for federal social programs.

"While Temer is hard for many people to digest, he will likely remain in office", said Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning. His approval ratings are in single figures.

A guilty verdict would have annulled the 2014 victory, thus stripping Temer of the rest of his mandate. He replaced her when she was impeached previous year.

The latest scandal broke last month.

"Temer will argue, 'I'm the guy who is going to give the country the bitter remedy that will cure it", said Carlos Manhanelli, political marketing specialist and chairman of the Brazilian Association of Political Consultants.


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