Brasilia, Brazil — Brazil’s embattled president survived a key congressional vote that could have suspended him over a bribery charge, mustering enough support late Wednesday to stay in office and avoid being tried by the country’s highest court.
President Michel Temer needed the support of just one-third of the 513 members of the lower Chamber of Deputies, or 171 members. Hours after the voting began, he had received the votes of more than that number of legislators. A final tally was expected later in the evening.
While Temer was clearly victorious, he won’t likely have much time to celebrate. Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, who leveled the bribery charge against Temer, is expected to charge him with obstruction of justice by the end of the month. That would provoke a second vote, forcing his allies to once again decide whether to risk their own political futures by sticking with the deeply unpopular leader. All 513 seats in the chamber are up for election next year.
The bribery allegation, which stunned even Brazilians inured to graft cases, was the latest in a bevy of scandals that has rocked the administration and created deep uncertainty and angst in Latin America’s largest nation.
The vote in the Chamber of Deputies began after a day of hearings and vote cajoling by both sides behind the scene. Opposition lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to delay the vote, an acknowledgement that they likely wouldn’t get enough support to suspend Temer despite his dismal support nationwide. The latest national poll said just 5 percent of Brazilians approval of Temer.