Brazil’s Temer wins Congressional votes to block graft charge

August 4, 2017

August, 1 2017 (Reuters)

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted on Wednesday to reject a corruption charge against President Michel Temer for allegedly taking bribes, saving him from facing a possible Supreme Court trial that could have ousted him from office.

Temer won enough ballots to keep the opposition from gaining the two-thirds of the vote required to move the corruption case forward to the top court.

But his support was less than hoped for and raised questions about the future of his economic reform agenda and how he will fare in future Congressional votes on more charges likely to be lodged against him.

The final tally showed 263 deputies voting in favor of Temer, 227 voting against him – well below the 300 votes in favor of the president that Beto Mansur, the government’s deputy whip in the lower chamber, predicted earlier Wednesday.

That puts in danger the chance legislators will even take up serious reform of Brazil’s pension system that is crucial to plug a wide budget deficit and revive investor confidence in an economy emerging from recession. Several key lawmakers have told Reuters in recent weeks they were inclined to shelve that effort until after the October 2018 presidential election.

But Temer vowed after the vote to press on, saying that “we will pass all the reforms that the country needs.”

He added: “Now it is time to invest in our country. Brazil is ready to start growing again.”