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What Happens Next if Temer Falls?

By: The Dawn

According to the Constitution, indirect elections would be held, but Parliamentarians are demanding “Direct Elections now!”

Photo credit: Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil

The denounce made by Joesley Batista and his brother Wesley—owners of the JBS meat processing company—, which was made public last Wednesday (17) on newspaper O Globo, opened up a very real possibility of impeachment or even resignation for putschist President Michel Temer.

In one of the recordings that was released, Temer herd from Joesley that the businessman was paying former deputy Eduardo Cunha and political operator Lúcio Funaro an allowance while they remain in prison in order to buy their silence. Upon hearing this, Temer replied: “We have to maintain that, do you understand?”.

Federal deputies Paulo Teixeira (PT) and Alessandro Molon (Rede) were the first ones to initiate impeachment requests in the chamber, shortly after the denounce was published. One of the texts says that “in view of the seriousness of the facts, it’s indispensable to install an impeachment process to prove the President of the Republic is directly linked with the attempt to silence a witness”.

If any of the requests is accepted, it will be addressed in two stages: in the Chamber and in the Senate, like it was when former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached.

But who’s taking power if Temer falls?

The line of succession

According to the Constitution, if the Vice President is deposed, he’s to be replaced by the President of the Chamber, then the President of the Senate, and lastly the President of the Supreme Federal Court (SFC).

The problem is that the current President of the Chamber, Rodrigo Maia, is under investigation for an open request by the president of the SFC, Edson Fachin, after the so-called “End of the World confession”, made by executives of Odebrecht in the context of the Lava Jato investigation. According to Fachin, Maia demanded 350 thousand Reais (around 110 thousand dollars) to pay for his campaign. So there’s a real risk of Maia being tried, which would prevent him from taking the seat.

The case of the current president of the Senate, Eunício Oliveira, is similar. He was inaugurated on February 1, and he was singled out by three snitches of the Lava Jato operation.

According to lawyer and member of the Popular Consultation Ricardo Gebrim, if that happens, the Supreme Court of Justice can prevent them from being part of the line of succession, like it did to former President of the Senate Renan Calheiros last December 7.  On that day, most of the ministers of the SCJ decided to maintain Calheiros in the presidency of the Senate, with the sole condition that he can’t replace Michel Temer.

But the most likely successor in the Presidency of the Republic is Cármen Lúcia, President of the SJC. Lúcia would assume temporarily and convene indirect elections within 30 days. That means that the successor to Temer would be elected by the National Congress, according to what’s established by Article 81 of the Constitution for the cases in which the President or the Vice President leave their seat after two years in power.

Direct or indirect elections?

In indirect elections, any party can present their candidate within the legally-set timeframe, and voters are federal deputies and senators. However, the opposition within the Congres sis made up of Parliamentarians of the PT, PCdoB, PSOL, PDT, and PSB. which is making a Constitutional Amend Project which proposes immediate, direct elections.

The problem is that Constitutional Amend Projects must be voted twice: once in each of the houses of the National Congress. “That should be done urgently, and Parliamentarians wouldn’t have their recess in July, an should paralyze the vote on theRetirement Reform”, Gebrim explains.

Aware of the difficulties, social movements are proposing “Direct Elections Now!”. The People’s Brazil Front and the People Without Fear organizations have said, through spokesman Raimundo Bonfirm, “we defend the project to urgently change the Constitution and we’re against indirect elections”.

“Our march on May 24 and our slogan ‘Direct elections Now!’ are now more relevant than ever”, Gebrim says.

Mistrust

To the lawyer, the confession by which the meat businessmen incriminated Temer is a part of a suspicious scheme. He recalls that on May 9, Cármen Lúcia met behind closed doors with 13 businesspeople, three of whom are members of the Economic and Social Development Council, known as “Conselhão”, which was created by Temer last year. These businessmen belong to various sectors of the economy such as banks, telecommunications, hotels, air transport companies, real estate, paper and cellulose production. “Cármen Lúcia probably knew about this recording when he met with the Brazilian GDP last week,” he said.

Professor of Law Carol Proner, of the Rio de Janeiro Federal University (UFRJ) is also wary of the support that the Globo network is giving to the accusations (considering that they have protected Temer up until this point) and warns: “the denounce against Michel Temer is clear, and in a serious country it’s enough to bring the government down, indeed. We need to be careful. Especially considering that this is being disseminated and celebrated by the Globo TV Network, the SJC and the Public Prosecutor’s Office and considering that the SJC organized a meeting with businessmen to create a project for the country—and these are the entrepreneurs that thought up the 2016 coup”.

To Proner, movements have to take to the streets, but “the transition to a Democratic Rule of Law must be carried out by the damnified themselves: the workers and social movements.

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