Brasília – Efforts by Brazil’s embattled government to push through unpopular austerity reforms face ever greater headwinds after the eruption of a corruption scandal weakening President Michel Temer.
Temer is staking his legacy on passage of the reforms, which center on changing the costly pension system to increase the retirement age to 65 for men and 62 for women from today’s 60 for men and 55 for women.
Temer has rock-bottom public approval ratings but he has been able to rely on a friendly Congress since legislators impeached leftist president Dilma Rousseff last year, automatically raising him, her conservative vice president, to the top job.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision last week to open corruption probes on some 100 politicians, including a third of Temer’s cabinet and many of his allies in Congress, the president’s position has deteriorated further.
He already faces widespread anger from voters over the austerity reforms, which also include liberalizing labor laws and an already-approved 20-year federal spending freeze.