Langevin’s Writings on the Crisis in Brazil / by Mark Langevin

Dear BrazilWorks Subscriber:

Thank you for your attention to BrazilWorks over the past several years.

We intend to continue to produce and distribute the BrazilWorks Briefing Papers to examine important policy issues that deserve greater attention.

Recently, Mark S. Langevin, Ph.D., Director of BrazilWorks, was appointed as Senior Research Fellow at the Council of Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) where he will publish short research articles and political analyses. You can find his most recent published work on Brazil’s crisis and the Lava Jato corruption investigations below.

Waiting in the Wings: The Vice President and Impeachment

With Aléxia Monteiro

Vice-President Michel Temer now waits in the wings ready to take charge of Brazil’s federal government. His party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the country’s largest, just announced its departure from President Dilma Rousseff’s governing coalition. With one momentary exception, the PMDB has participated in every government since the return to civilian rule in 1985. In 1992 it bolted from then President Fernando Collor’s cabinet just weeks before his impeachment. Today, the PMDB stands ready to support President Dilma’s impeachment, paving the way for Temer to be sworn in as chief executive of a polarized nation in a deep recession. It is unlikely he can lead Brazil to overcome its economic and political challenges. Rather, Temer’s succession to the presidency may compound them by widening political polarization and raising concerns about his own role in political corruption, including the Lava Jato scheme.

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The Brazilian Congress: Money, Accountability, and Impeachment

The revelation of the Odebrecht list of contributions to electoral candidates comes as no surprise to anyone and confirms that private-sector firms spend lavishly to influence policymaking in Brazil and elsewhere. We still do not know which contributions were legal and which were not, but this list is noteworthy because it fits within a broader pattern of illegal and questionable campaign contributions paid by many of Brazil’s leading construction firms and government contractors. These campaign finance practices have been suspected for years, but are now uncovered in detail by the Lava Jato operation taskforce

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Brazil’s Compounding Crisis

Brazil’s crisis is compounding and threatens to drive the recession deeper and drain the political conditions for governability. The government’s capacity to respond to the recession and its fiscal crunch is nearly exhausted by the rush toward presidential impeachment and fueled by the Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption investigation and prosecution. Brazil’s coalitional presidentialism (presidencialismo de coalizao created a sturdy institutional and political foundation for public policymaking, but is now cracking from the weight of the economic downturn and the corruption scandal. President Dilma Rousseff may or may not serve out her second term (2015-2018), but Brazil’s multifarious crisis will likely outlast her one way or another. Most important, the crisis may damage Brazil in ways far surpassing the monetary losses attributed to the Petrobras “pay to play” kickback scheme that lies at the heart of the Lava Jato scandal.

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