Temer's First Three Weeks

Despite Congressional support for the interim President, Michel Temer is experiencing extreme difficulty in consolidating his power after nearly month at the helm. On average, Temer is losing one minister per week due to public or internal pressure that ranges from ministerial appointees failing to take over because of a lack of employee acceptance to being compromised by revealing wiretaps. Southern Pulse’s experts explore Temer’s challenges and struggles.

High Expectations: President Dilma Rousseff’s spent much of the first year and half of her second term in office defending herself against a possible impeachment, limiting her ability to govern. Once it became clear that Rousseff would undergo impeachment proceedings, many expected Temer would have an open road to govern, with a sizable political coalition and media and private sector support, as well as the personality to play the political game, passing much needed reforms. Temer promised the stars, but being a normal human being, he could not deliver. Wishful thinking gave way to reality: Brazil’s society is divided, the media are not as united as expected, and some are out for blood. Temer has replaced Rousseff in the glass house, and the natural idiosyncrasies of his governing coalition are more than enough to produce public relations nightmares, especially with the Lava Jato investigation still running its course.

Tone Deafness: Nothing speaks louder about how removed the Temer interim administration is from modern Brazilian society than his cabinet picks. Not a single woman or Afro-Brazilian is in his cabinet. It is composed of mostly old, white, men -- who colluded to remove a woman from the presidency. They are men accustomed to winning proportional legislative elections, where it is easy to obtain votes without relating to the public. They are men who are not used to the spotlight, but rather to back room deals with their old boys’ club. If an administration wants to portray itself as a national salvation front, it must represent at least half of Brazilian Society. More than 50 percent of Brazilians are of African ancestry, and more than half of Brazilians are female. Not choosing representatives from either group opened the door to bashing by the media and on social -- a door that has never been closed.

PMDBism: The legal reasoning for impeachment was President Rousseff’s creative accounting, though the discourse surrounding the process was corruption inside the Workers Party (PT). However, under the phenomenon of PMDBism, many centrist parties likely benefited just as much from corruption as the PT did between 2002 and 2016. For example, PMDB and PP are central figures in the Petrobras corruption scandal, and they were instrumental to suspending Rousseff and forming Temer’s cabinet. With a number of ministers reflecting this base, it was only a matter of time before the Temer administration was exposed by Lava Jato leaks and suffered related public relations setbacks. Perhaps Temer and his team were betting the media and the public would give the interim administration a 100 day honeymoon, but they misread the situation. Scandal sells, and the Brazilian public never supported Temer -- it just didn’t like Rousseff.