Michel Temer

Michel Temer

Personalities

Michel Temer [miˈʃɛw miˈɡɛw eˈliɐs ˈtemeɾ luˈliɐ] 2, born September 23, 1940 in Tietê, is a Brazilian statesman, Vice-President of the Republic from 2011 to 2016 and President of the Republic from 2016 to 2018.

Member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), he sat in the Chamber of Deputies for São Paulo during six legislative elections. Between 1997 and 2010, he twice chaired the lower house of Congress.

Candidate for the vice-presidency of the Republic in the 2010 presidential election alongside Dilma Rousseff, he became the second figure in the state after the latter’s election to the presidency. The ticket was re-elected at the end of the 2014 presidential election. But the tensions between the two heads of the executive, who are devoted to mutual animosity, weaken the government coalition.

In May 2016, Michel Temer began to serve as interim President of the Republic in the context of the impeachment procedure for Dilma Rousseff, forming a new government. In August 2016, after Rousseff’s dismissal, he became full-time President of the Republic. His presidency is thwarted by the pressure of an opposition which accuses him of his lack of legitimacy, by accusations of corruption and by the continuation of the economic crisis.

Having become the most unpopular president in Brazilian history, he gave up standing in the 2018 presidential election, ultimately won by Social Liberal Party candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who succeeded him on January 1, 2019.

Shortly after the end of his mandate, he was arrested in connection with Operation Lava Jato.

Personal situation

Origins

Born in Tietê, in the state of São Paulo, Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia comes from a family of five children3. His parents, coffee and rice producers by profession3, are Lebanese Maronites living in the village of Tabourah, in the district of Koura, in Lebanon4. Michel Temer is thus the first Brazilian head of state of Lebanese origin5. He is not fluent in Arabic, but is able to understand the subject of a conversation in this language6,7,8.

Training

Graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of São Paulo, he obtained his first university degree in 1963, and continued his studies until 1974, when he left the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo with a doctorate in law. He began a legal career by working in a private firm from 1963, before joining the public service by becoming the State Prosecutor of São Paulo in 1970. At the same time, he joined the office of the Secretary of State for ‘Education of São Paulo, José Carlos de Ataliba Nogueira (pt).

Private life

From a first union with Maria Célia Toledo, Michel Temer is the father of three daughters, born between 1969 and 1974. Then divorced, he maintains an affair with the journalist Érica Ferraz, with whom he has a son, born in 1999.

In 2003, a few months after having met her through a friend, Temer married Marcela Tedeschi Araújo, forty-two years younger. Their son, Michelzinho, was born the same year. Former model, Marcela Temer aroused the curiosity of the media and social networks during the first inauguration of Dilma Rousseff in 2011: her dress and her elegance had been the subject of many comments.

Political background

1987-2010: federal deputy

In 1983, Michel Temer was appointed Attorney General of the State of São Paulo before becoming, the following year, Secretary of Public Security.

Four years later, on March 16, 1987, he was elected federal deputy under the banner of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). As such, he is part of the Constituent Assembly, which must then draft a new constitution for Brazil. Michel Temer is on the side of the progressives: opposed to the death penalty, he contributes to the inclusion, in the new fundamental law, of the limitation of private property rights, the stability of employment, the working week to 30 hours and the nationalization of the financial system; at the same time, he supports the severing of diplomatic relations with countries legalizing racial discrimination, the legalization of abortion and the establishment of a presidential regime.

Twice, Michel Temer presided over the Chamber of Deputies, between 1997 and 2001, then between 2009 and his election as Vice-President of the Republic, the following year. From his first term at the head of the lower house, he encouraged closer communication to report on the work of deputies.

Michel Temer’s political career took a turn on September 6, 2001 when he was appointed president of the PMDB; he then becomes a key figure on the political spectrum, since his political party is regularly approached by governments of all stripes in order to facilitate the adoption of bills by the two chambers of Congress. After the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the head of Brazil, he is often consulted by the latter, which makes him the main partner of his parliamentary majority although, for the vice-presidency, he preferred José Alencar.

According to documents revealed in 2016 by Wikileaks, Michel Temer was communicating secretly in 2006 with the United States Embassy about the political situation in Brazil10.

Then president of the lower house, Temer was invited, on June 12, 2010, to seek the vice-presidency of the Federal Republic alongside Dilma Rousseff, the candidate of the Workers’ Party (PT) supported by President Lula da Silva for the presidential election the following October. On October 31, 2010, at the end of the second ballot, Rousseff and Temer were elected head of the Brazilian state for a four-year term.

2011-2016: Vice-President of the Republic

Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer took office on January 1, 2011. During this first mandate, Michel Temer was regularly called upon by the President to resolve the crises linked to the parliamentary majority and to facilitate the compromises essential to the adoption of the bills introduced by the federal government. This role earned the Vice-President the nickname “aspirador de pó” (“vacuum cleaner” in Portuguese) by the allies of the Head of State.

Reappointed to the vice-presidency after the re-election of Dilma Rousseff in 2014, Michel Temer is gradually distancing himself from the head of state. Thus, on August 6, 2015, he explains publicly that it is necessary for “someone to have the capacity to unite the country”, implying that this was not the case for President Rousseff. This position is considered by the press as a mark of rupture between the two heads of the executive. At the end of 2015, just a few months after the start of his second term, the vice-president drew up and had the press published, for Dilma Rousseff, a letter in which he openly complained about the role. of “decorative vice-president” that the Head of State would have assigned to him11.

At the end of 2015, the São Paulo Electoral Court sentenced Michel Temer to a fine of R $ 80,000 for having made donations in 2014 to election campaigns of his party, the PMDB, above the limit set by law12. He therefore risks being declared ineligible for a period of eight years13. This possibility would not prevent him from succeeding Dilma Rousseff, but from standing for election14. The electoral tribunal thus indicates that it would rule on this question only in the event of Temer’s candidacy for a ballot.

While President Rousseff is increasingly weakened by corruption cases linked to the Petrobras scandal, which also involves her mentor Lula, the PMDB withdraws, on March 29, 2016, its support for the government of the Head of State, that – here having to manage the most serious political crisis since his election to the presidency. For his part, while an impeachment procedure is opened for disguising the public accounts against Rousseff by the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, reputed to be close to the vice-president, Michel Temer says he is “ready” to succeed him, insofar as the Constitution provides that it is the Vice-President who must become the Head of State until the end of the planned term of the President of the Republic in office15,16. Those close to Rousseff, especially within the PT, denounce the role played by the vice-president in the withdrawal of his party from the coalition, some supposing that, out of opportunism, this one wants to take power by means of the dismissal of Dilma Rousseff, while Temer himself is involved in several corruption cases.

2011-2016: Vice-President of the Republic

Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer took office on January 1, 2011. During this first mandate, Michel Temer was regularly called upon by the President to resolve the crises linked to the parliamentary majority and to facilitate the compromises essential to the adoption of the bills introduced by the federal government. This role earned the Vice-President the nickname “aspirador de pó” (“vacuum cleaner” in Portuguese) by the allies of the Head of State.

Reappointed to the vice-presidency after the re-election of Dilma Rousseff in 2014, Michel Temer is gradually distancing himself from the head of state. Thus, on August 6, 2015, he explains publicly that it is necessary for “someone to have the capacity to unite the country”, implying that this was not the case for President Rousseff. This position is considered by the press as a mark of rupture between the two heads of the executive. At the end of 2015, just a few months after the start of his second term, the vice-president drew up and had the press published, for Dilma Rousseff, a letter in which he openly complained about the role. of “decorative vice-president” that the Head of State would have assigned to him11.

At the end of 2015, the São Paulo Electoral Court sentenced Michel Temer to a fine of R $ 80,000 for having made donations in 2014 to election campaigns of his party, the PMDB, above the limit set by law12. He therefore risks being declared ineligible for a period of eight years13. This possibility would not prevent him from succeeding Dilma Rousseff, but from standing for election14. The electoral tribunal thus indicates that it would rule on this question only in the event of Temer’s candidacy for a ballot14.

While President Rousseff is increasingly weakened by corruption cases linked to the Petrobras scandal, which also involves her mentor Lula, the PMDB withdraws, on March 29, 2016, its support for the government of the Head of State, that – here having to manage the most serious political crisis since his election to the presidency. For his part, while an impeachment procedure is opened for disguising the public accounts against Rousseff by the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, reputed to be close to the vice-president, Michel Temer says he is “ready” to succeed him, insofar as the Constitution provides that it is the Vice-President who must become the Head of State until the end of the planned term of the President of the Republic in office15,16. Those close to Rousseff, especially within the PT, denounce the role played by the vice-president in the withdrawal of his party from the coalition, some supposing that, out of opportunism, this one wants to take power by means of the dismissal of Dilma Rousseff, while Temer himself is involved in several corruption cases.

2016-2018: President of the Republic

Estate of Dilma Rousseff

On May 12, 2016, President Dilma Rousseff, accused – in a controversial manner – of disguising public accounts, was removed from power by an impeachment procedure. Michel Temer, accused by the suspended president of acting to remove him from power, therefore assumes the functions of head of state for a maximum period of 180 days. It forms a new government, supported by a coalition of center and right-wing parties, unlike Dilma’s government which was more center-left.

Dilma Rousseff was dismissed by the Senate on August 31, 2016. Michel Temer thus formally succeeds her as head of the country18. He is sworn in on the same day19,20. In September 2019, he will affirm that his seizure of power constituted a “putsch”.

Economic and social policy

As of May 12, 2016, faced with Brazil’s deteriorating financial situation, his government announced a reduction in public spending while stressing its desire to maintain social programs in favor of the poorest24. He nevertheless made the Congress vote for a revaluation of the salaries of members of the executive power, the judiciary and the police, categories which are nevertheless “already very privileged” according to the economist André Nassif25. The measure, previously rejected by Rousseff, risks, according to some analysts, creating incomprehension and contributing to the unpopularity of the Temer government, in particular because of the budget cuts previously decided in the fields of education and health25.

In September 2016, his government plans to increase working hours and push back the retirement age26. Its program includes other austerity measures, in particular budget cuts with the freeze for twenty years of increases in spending via a modification of the constitution27,28 and a modification of the social program Bolsa Família29. On September 13, 2016, he proposed to privatize four airports in the country as well as electrical, oil and agricultural facilities30. On September 12, 2016, he signed the Paris climate agreement, resulting from the COP2131.

The government announces the abolition of “popular pharmacies” for the summer of 2017. Created in 2004 under the presidency of Lula Da Silva, they enabled the most disadvantaged to obtain drugs at low prices32. In environmental policy, under pressure from the agri-food lobby, the government canceled certain laws on the fight against deforestation and on the protection of indigenous territories21. A new wave of privatization of public enterprises has been decided for 2018 and 201933.

According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, extreme poverty increased by 11% during 2017 while inequalities also resumed their progression (the Gini index falling from 0.555 to 0.567). The reduction in the number of beneficiaries of the Bolsa Família decided by the government is the main cause according to the study34.

While the recession stood at more than 2% in 2016, the country returned to growth from 2017.

Justice

On February 7, 2017, after the death in a plane crash of the Supreme Court judge responsible for the Petrobras scandal36, he appointed his Minister of Justice Alexandre de Moraes to succeed him rather than letting the President of the Supreme Court appoint him – even a new magistrate37. This appointment was then controversial, due to the proximity of the new judge to many politicians involved in the Petrobras scandal for which he is now responsible36.

Environment

In August 2017, Michel Temer decided to repeal the nature reserve status of part of the Amazon rainforest measuring 4 million hectares38 to allow mining by private companies and the conversion of the forest into crops for agro-business enterprises 22. This authorization was finally suspended seven days later by the Federal Court in Brasilia22. The government faces accusations of conflict of interest, with Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi and his family owning the world’s largest soybean company39.

International Politics

Unpopularity

From the start of his presidency, Michel Temer was unpopular. In July 2016, 13% of those polled declared themselves satisfied with its action according to the Ibope40 institute, N 2. On September 4, 2016, a demonstration organized in São Paulo and bringing together 100,000 people called for an early presidential election and the departure of Temer .

On February 25, 2017, a demonstration was organized against him during the Rio carnival42. On March 13, 2017, he left the presidential palace and returned to the vice-president’s palace, for fear of “ghosts” 43. Still in connection with the Odebrecht scandal, in April the Justice opened inquiries into 42 deputies, 29 senators and 3 governors belonging to the presidential majority44. On April 29, 2017, the unions called for a general strike, the first in more than twenty years, against the extension of the duration of pension contributions and the abolition of certain labor rights45. Almost 40 million people participate46. On that date, Temer also had an approval rate of less than 10% 47. On May 25, in reaction to a demonstration that brought together between 25,000 and 100,000 people, Temer deployed the army and then withdrew it following criticism48. In June 2017, the Pastoral Land Commission denounced a sharp increase in the repression against the landless peasant movement. According to her, assassinations have increased by 25% – including 10 peasants shot dead by the police on May 24, 2017 – and imprisonments by 86% 21.

In June 2017, 65% of those polled were in favor of his departure from the presidency49. At the end of July 2017, it only received 5% of favorable opinions50. In 2018, after the conviction of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and favorite in the poll to a sentence of fifteen years in prison, which compromises his chances of being a candidate, the hypothesis of a candidacy of the incumbent president to fill the void facing the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is mentioned51, despite voting intentions which have stagnated at 1% 52. On February 27, 2018, Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann was appointed Minister of Security (Interior) 53. For the first time in thirty years and the return of democracy, a soldier, Joaquim Silva e Luna, is appointed minister, thus succeeding Jungmann.

Charges of corruption

Aiming at his government

A few weeks after the constitution of his government, the ministers of Planning and Transparency are forced to resign on charges of corruption. A third Minister, in charge of Tourism, is also targeted by an investigation for having received money from private companies in exchange for possible favors in the conclusion of contracts, decides first to remain in the government, then resigns in turn . In June 2016, several of Michel Temer’s main political allies, including the President of the Senate, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the PMDB and a former President of the Republic were placed under a request for arrest for their involvement. in the Petrobras corruption scandal.

On November 25, 2016, the government secretary resigned, accused of influence peddling in the context of a real estate project in which Michel Temer could also be involved60. On December 14, 2016, accused of being involved in the Petrobras affair, it was the turn of one of the president’s closest advisers to resign61. On January 7, 2017, the Youth Secretary resigned after controversial statements. Asked to comment on the assassinations of nearly a hundred prisoners a few days apart in two Brazilian prisons, he replied “We should kill more, we should kill a week” 62. On February 3, 2017, Michel Temer appointed Wellington Moreira Franco as Secretary General of the Presidency, but on February 8, Justice suspended his appointment for his involvement in the Petrobras affair63,64. On February 22, 2017, the Supreme Court canceled this suspension65. In June, PMDB MP Rodrigo Rocha Loures, described as a close advisor to the president, was arrested following the disclosure of a video showing him taking a suitcase of tickets, apparently linked to bribes66. On July 5, 2017, Geddel Vieira Lima, former secretary general of the government, was arrested for obstructing justice.

In July, several other political figures including the Minister of Science and Technology, the Minister of Mines and Energy, the Minister of Cities, the Minister of National Integration, the Minister of Industry and Trade and the new President of the Senate are affected by revelations of the journal Época on the bribes paid by the multinational of the agribusiness JBS.

Concerning him

On June 15, 2016, Michel Temer denied any involvement in any corruption scandal linked to Petrobras while Sergio Machado, former president of Transpetro (pt), a subsidiary of Petrobras, personally implicated him in the context of an agreement with the justice aimed at reducing his sentence69.70. On September 24, 2016, a preliminary investigation was opened against him71. On April 4, 2017, his trial for the alleged illegal financing of his 2014 electoral campaign begins.72 On June 9, 2017, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal rejected, by four votes to three, the invalidation of his 2014 presidential campaign where he was then Dilma Rousseff’s running mate, allowing her to stay in power and avoid an eight-year ineligibility sentence73. Earlier, the court refused to take into account the evidence related to Odebrecht, as part of Operation Lava Jato74.

On May 17, 2017, the Brazilian newspaper O Globo accused him, recording in support, of having ordered the payment of bribes to buy the silence of Eduardo Cunha, former president of the Chamber of Deputies, this which leads to demonstrations calling for his dismissal75. On May 18, the Supreme Court opened an investigation for obstruction of justice and passive corruption76. On May 20, he unsuccessfully requested the suspension of the investigation against him77. While Temer had repeatedly refused to leave power and impeachment motions had been issued by the opposition, the Minister of Culture and that of the City resigned78,79. On May 31, the Supreme Court authorized his questioning in writing.80 On June 10, Temer refused to answer these questions and denounced a “comedy” and “arrogant inquisition” 81, after having been, according to him, morally abused by the police74. On June 26, the courts formally accused him of this count49. He then qualifies the accusations of which he is the subject of “fiction” and denounces the absence of “concrete evidence”, adding that “it is an insulting and infamous attack on [his] personal dignity” 82.

On June 11, the review Veja revealed in its daily issue that Abin’s intelligence allegedly spied on Edson Fachin, rapporteur for Operation Lava Jato and who had opened an investigation against the President of the Republic83, at Temer’s request. , which the interested party denies84. On June 15, the Folha de S. Paulo revealed that he had had his daughter’s house renovated with bribes, through the intermediary of a former colonel presented as his “straw man” for the receipt of bribes from the multinational JBS85. The boss of the latter, Joesley Mendonca Batista accuses him of being at the head of the “most dangerous criminal organization in the country” 86. On the following July 10, the parliamentary rapporteur advocates his impeachment87.

On August 2, when he had ministers suspended from their functions so that they could exercise their mandate as parliamentarians88, the Chamber of Deputies rejected his indictment, 263 deputies deciding against the opening of a trial, 227 for and two abstaining.

On October 17, 2018, the federal police asked the public prosecutor’s office to charge him and his daughter with regard to the alleged payment of bribes to parliamentarians in 2017 in exchange for the signing of a decree favorable to port companies90. He was indicted on December 1991.

He was arrested on March 21, 2019 as part of Operation Lava Jato92. One of his relatives, Colonel Lima, was also arrested93. On March 25, Michel Temer was released under habeas corpus94. He was indicted on March 3095. He was arrested again on May 9, 1996, no longer released a week later.

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