With Senator Aécio Neves (Brazilian Social Democracy Party, PSDB, of Minas Gerais) removed again from office, President Michel Temer loses, at a delicate moment, a strategic player in his game to shelve the second charge delivered by the Office of the Prosecutor- General. On Wednesday, while discussing with aides strategies to save Mr. Neves, President Temer still had to deal with the dissatisfaction of the Minas Gerais and Pernambuco caucuses, which together total 82 votes.
Representing 53 disgruntled deputies from the Minas Gerais caucus, the vice lower-house speaker, Fábio Ramalho (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, PMDB, of Minas Gerais), protested Wednesday against the auction of four plants previously managed by Minas Gerais-based power company Cemig, and warned that the Social Security reform won’t pass in the Chamber, where there would be much “dissatisfaction.”
On another front, Mr. Temer faced the rebellion of Pernambuco’s deputies, who total 29 lawmakers, including four ministers: of Cities, Defense, Education and Mines and Energy. They are all determined to stop the bill of Health Minister Ricardo Barros (Progressive Party, PP, of Paraná) to transfer technology from state-owned Hemobrás — producer of drugs derived from blood or generic engineering based in Pernambuco — to a new unit in Maringá, Paraná — the minister’s electoral base.
It’s in this turbulent context that Mr. Temer will have to circumvent the absence of Senator Neves, his main ally in the PSDB amid his attempt to shelve the second charge against him. On Wednesday Mr. Temer discussed Mr. Neves’s situation with a group of senators, including the government leader, Romero Jucá (PMDB, of Roraima), and the Ethics Council’s president, Senator João Alberto (PMDB, of Maranhão).
In the vote on the first charge on August 3, 22 PDSB deputies voted in favor of Mr. Temer, while 21 advocated the investigations should go ahead. At the time, a presidential aide admitted that Mr. Neves’s interference was decisive to guarantee that result. Mr. Neves and the minister of the Government Secretariat, Antonio Imbassahy, would have managed to win the PSDB’s dissident group, led by São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin.
Presidential sources say it’s too early to assess the impact of Mr. Neves’s departure, which can still be reversed by the Federal Supreme Court or the Senate. On top of that, internally the PSDB’s assessment — even in the opposition wing to the government — is that Mr. Neves is a victim of a mistaken decision that trampled the Constitution.
Although Mr. Alckmin has retreated in his criticisms of the government, the party’s internal division persists. The so-called “dark-haired wing” of younger members supports the opposition to Mr. Temer, which was clear in a recent move in the Commission of Constitution and Justice (CCJ), which in the next few days reviews the second charge. Deputy Jutahy Júnior (PSDB, of Bahia) left the CCJ, and in his place another Bahia native, João Gualberto, came in. Both voted against Mr. Temer in the first charge.
In the first time, Mr. Neves had been removed from office due an individual decision took in May by the Car Wash rapporteur, Justice Edson Fachin. Almost two months later, a preliminary injunction issued by Justice Marco Aurélio Mello, in late June, reinstated his powers as senator. Mr. Neves immediately resumed his talks to reverse votes from dissidents of the government in favor of Mr. Temer. This negotiation, according to presidential sources, avoided by one vote the victory of the dissident wing in the first charge.