Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been provisionally removed from office while she waits for a verdict in her impeachment trial, which can take up to 180 days. In turn, her vice president, Michel Temer, has become the interim president. The process leading up to the change in leaders has taken a toll on all sides. The government lost credibility and the opposition is seen as having made an opportunistic attempt to grab power through a much-questioned impeachment process. The public, too, is at a loss. The impeachment is more like the anesthesia before the needed surgery rather than the operation the population expected could “fix” the situation. The result is a general feeling of numbness, even for the notoriously energetic Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former president and Rousseff’s political mentor, whose last words after his mentee left office on May 12 were simply: “I’m going home now.”
For months, a majority of Brazilians have lived with the expectation that, once Rousseff left, the country would finally start thinking about the political and economic maladies it faces. This means that the window for the new government to produce some results is a small one, especially considering Rousseff’s ousted Workers Party’s (PT) promise to block any reform proposed by the interim president. The population is impatient and the sedative effect of the impeachment process will soon wear off, which could mean new protests and instability if there are no significant changes in the short term.
As delicate as the situation may be, it is already possible to predict how the new government will operate. Temer’s newly formed cabinet—his only concrete action so far as Brazil’s new leader—is telling. Brazil has over 30 political parties, all of which demand cabinet positions in exchange for their backing, which Temer needs if he is to pass any reform in Congress. For her part, Rousseff had needed to go as far as creating 39 ministries to form a viable to 23, thus responding to the major popular demand of making government leaner. This is no small feat since he did this while guaranteeing a majority in Congress.
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