Rio’s Governor Luiz Fernando “Pezão” de Souza is likely to hang onto his post, according to Globo columnist Ricardo Noblat. He reported today that Brasília jurists believe Pezão’s planned appeal (presumably along with that of his vice governor) is likely to meet with success.
Yesterday, Rio’s regional electoral court voted on a complaint filed by state representative Marcelo Freixo 3-2 to remove Pezão and his vice governor Francisco Dornelles. If the appeals are rejected, Rio would hold new elections to complete the gubernatorial term ending in 2018. The pair are accused of trading corporate tax incentives in return for campaign donations.
The interim governor, if there is one, would be current state legislature president Jorge Picciani, himself the object of serious corruption investigations.
Pezão’s position as top Rio politician grows weaker with each passing day. Yesterday, the state awarded wage increases to its military police to ward off a strike. The past week has seen chaos and horrific violence in the neighboring state of Espírito Santo, where police have been striking.
Federal banks just weighed in on the rescue package drafted by state and federal officials, saying they would not lend resources for outstanding wage payments, part of the R$ 26 billion deficit the state is now trying to cover.
Meanwhile, state representatives debate the controversial privatization of Cedae, the water and sewage company excluded from the 1998 wave of privatizations. Company workers have been protesting in downtown streets along with public servants whose wages would be cut as part of the package. There has been an impressive degree of violence, in some cases.
Pezão came to the governorship as vice governor of former Governor Sérgio Cabral, now in prison, accused of taking bribes and spectacular money laundering.
As RioRealblog commented earlier, there is no clear way out of Rio’s tragic situation.
Even if Pezão and Dornelles wiggle out of yesterday’s court decision, they could well be at the end of their careers; the decision also sets a precedent for the annulment of the Rousseff-Temer election in 2014, which may also have involved illegal campaign spending.