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Opinion: What Does “Fora Temer!” Mean in Brazil?

Opinion by Michael Royster

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The most popular chant around Brazil these days is “Fora Temer!” But, you may well ask, what exactly does it mean? As a reminder, Brazil has no Vice President, so next in line for the Presidency is the President of the Chamber of Deputies.

Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.
Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.

The current Chamber President is Rodrigo Maia, a longtime member of DEM, Brazil’s largest right-wing party, traditionally allied with PSDB. Moreover, Maia has firmly established himself as one of President Temer’s chief lieutenants in the new governing coalition, and is hated by Temer’s opponents.

If “Fora Temer!” were a geographical rather than rhetorical phrase, it has already happened. President Temer flew off to China to participate in the G20 meetings; because of an inexplicably weird quirk in the Brazilian Constitution, Maia officially became President during the time Temer was abroad, having all the powers Temer normally has. [He didn’t exercise any of those powers.]

There is a possibility that Temer will be ejected from the presidential office, because the Dilma/Temer ticket in 2014 has been accused of campaign finance irregularities. The case is sub judice and there are commentators who believe TSE will convict. If so, the 2014 election would be annulled and Temer declared ineligible. In that case, Maia would become acting President for a 90-day period until new Presidential elections.

This, without doubt, is the best that the “Fora Temer!” crowd could hope for. Some of them want Lula back in power, some favor Marina Silva; however, all of them are decidedly “anyone but Temer!” — which is what “Fora Temer!” really means.

In the Curmudgeon’s humble opinion, that’s simply not going to happen. Rather, the case will drag on and on until a decision is reached, and even that decision will be subject to review by Brazil’s Supreme Court. By that time, it will be 2018 and the regularly scheduled elections will be held as usual.

The Curmudgeon isn’t all that pleased with President Temer, as he seems to embody the “same old same old” power game played by Brazil’s elite. But it would be nice to have a bit more stability in government.

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