Brazilian president Michel Temer survived a corruption vote in early August when a move to refer a bribery case against him to Brazil’s Supreme Court – which would have almost certainly led to his suspension from office – was defeated by the country's Congress. And the result was by no small margin – 263 deputies voted against the measure, 91 more than Mr Temer needed to quash it.
Mr Temer, who has served as president for a year, assuming the office after the impeachment and removal from office of his left-wing predecessor Dilma Rousseff of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (a process that many viewed as nakedly political), presides over Brazil at a strange moment.
With the president himself already once formally indicted for corruption for his alleged role in a bribery scandal, Mr Temer’s Brazil remains mired in a stubborn recession, with its economy having contracted 7% over the past two years. A series of spectacular cases of official malfeasance, the most well known of which, Operação Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash), focuses on bribery and corruption within state oil company Petrobras and construction company Odebrecht, continue to grind on. Another former president, the once-dominant Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was recently sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison after his own corruption trial, a sentence he is fighting.
Even so, the World Bank assessed that Brazil received $78.93bn in FDI in 2016, putting it comfortably in the top 10 of such destinations worldwide. Ilan Goldfajn, the head of Banco Central do Brasil, the country's central bank, said earlier this month that, though still weak, the Brazilian economy is in “recovery” mode and that it should post positive growth in 2018 (albeit a feeble 2%).
“The investment climate today is better than it was,” says Terry McCoy, professor emeritus of Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. “Both the Bovespa [Brazil’s stock exchange] and the real [the country’s currency] are up, and some significant legislation has passed with social security up next. That said, from now until next year the outlook is uncertain at best.”
Brazil’s political landscape remains anything but calm. Following the failure of impeachment proceedings against Mr Temer, attorney general Ricardo Janot told the newspaper Folha de São Paulo the president could still be tried on charges of racketeering and obstruction of justice on the strength of plea bargains being worked out with current defendants.