Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for August 3rd, 2017

Brazil: Temer Holds On

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 3rd August, 2017

Michel TemerLast evening was quite surreal. I was at a local working men’s health club in Fortaleza where, in one room, men were taking part in a karaoke competition, while in another, people were crowded round a TV screen, watching a live broadcast from Brazil’s lower House of Congress in Brasilia. The shouting and catcalls from the MPs were even rowdier than the hullabaloo among the karaoke contestants. An electronic clapometer recorded the scores of the amateur singers, while on the TV screen, votes for and against sending President Michel Temer for trial on charges of corruption were recorded one by one. The latter took a considerable time, as many of the MPs insisted on making a speech outlining why they thought the President was a scoundrel or else much maligned, according to their own political loyalties.

Dilma Lula As the figures mounted, the MPs’ vote became as exciting as a Eurovision song contest, particularly as the “Yes” votes started to accelerate. But as a two-thirds majority was needed for the motion to begin proceedings against Mr Temer to be passed, it was in the end a lost cause — which prompted more shouting and jostling from the elected representatives. It should be remembered that Brazil’s last President, Dilma Rousseff, was ousted from power by Mr Temer and others, and that her predecessor, “Lula” da Silva has been given a prison sentence (against which he is appealing); corruption is at the centre of all these scandals. In fact, corruption is such a part of Brazilian political life, from the margins of billion dollar contracts to planning permissions at a local council level, that is surprising that the electorate bothers to vote at all. But another thing about last night struck me forcefully, which was that the besuited members of Congress, overwhelmingly white, overweight and puffed up like prize cockerels, bore precious little resemblance to the ordinary people I was with, both physically and in the way they behave. There is a huge gulf in this country between the governing and the governed and the shattered reputations of almost all recent senior politicians must surely lead to growing cynicism, then perhaps angry unrest.

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