BRASILIA – The opposition Workers Party (PT) on Tuesday said corruption allegations against President Michel Temer’s administration were creating a crisis of governance and called for early elections.
“We’re facing a uniquely grave moment in the country’s history,” Sen. Humberto Costa, the head of the PT’s bloc in the upper house said on the Senate floor.
“The only way out is to construct a grand national pact” and hold early elections at the start of 2017, he added.
Presidential elections are currently scheduled for October 2018.
Costa alluded to corruption allegations against Temer, two of his top ministers and roughly 50 politicians, most of them part of the ruling coalition. Temer, who denies the allegations, is accused of soliciting some $3 million in illegal campaign donations in 2014.
The allegations have been attributed to former executives of construction giant Odebrecht who have reached plea deals with prosecutors.
Odebrecht is one of a score of construction and engineering accused of having paid bribes to secure inflated contracts with state oil company Petrobras.
Investigators say the construction groups formed a cartel to overcharge the oil giant, splitting the extra money with corrupt Petrobras officials while setting aside some of the loot to pay off politicians who provided cover for the graft.
Costa said opinion polls, in most of which Temer’s approval rating is less than 12 percent, “indicate that this is a government rejected” by the majority of the population.
He said Brazil had an “illegitimate” government that had come to power in a “parliamentary coup,” referring to the removal of office via impeachment of Temer’s predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, who was found guilty by the Senate of manipulating budget figures to minimize the size of the deficit.
After the president’s allies booed his remarks, Costa said Temer, Rousseff’s former vice president, “may have a legislative majority, but the vast majority of society wants him to go.”
The opposition leader made his remarks during a final debate session before a vote Tuesday on Temer’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to limit public spending growth to the inflation rate for the next 20 years.
The proposed legislation has generated sometimes violent protests by Temer’s opponents, who contend the bill – if passed – would slash funding for education and health care.
A survey published Tuesday by the Datafolha polling firm found that 60 percent of Brazilians oppose the proposed public spending cap, with just 24 percent in favor.