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Brazil's electoral court keeps Temer in office

11 June 2017

With his position weakened, Temer is struggling to keep his ruling coalition together so he can effectively govern. The case centred on his campaign as running mate to President Rousseff, and if found guilty his presidency, replacing Ms Rousseff after she was impeached, would have been annulled. Couto also said that more scandals in the administration, which has lurched from one crisis to another over the previous year, were likely.

If the court finds the campaign received illegal financing, Temer could be removed from office, adding further to the country's political turmoil.

"You don't switch the president of the republic every hour", he said, casting the deciding vote to drop the case.

If the report proves accurate, Lúcia said in the statement, punishment of the alleged espionage should take into account the grave "legal, political and institutional consequences of such an act". Brazil's top electoral court is preparing to vote on a decision that could force Temer from office.

Batista said Temer condoned payments to silence a jailed legislator, but Temer has denied the claims and stated the recording was doctored.

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Temer, a third of his Cabinet and dozens of powerful congressmen are under investigation for corruption, jeopardizing the prospects of the congressional passage of the government's economic austerity package.

Last month, a recording emerged that apparently captured Temer endorsing hush money to ex-House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, a former Temer ally serving 15 years in prison for corruption and money laundering.

Having ascended to the presidency through what many observers describe as being a parliamentary coup, Temer has suffered from appallingly low approval ratings and constant protests. But among the political and business elite he was tolerated, partly because he was trying to push through pension and labour reforms which, they say, were vital to revive the country's economy.

The head of the electoral court, Gilmar Mendes, said that each of the remaining justices would have about 20 minutes on Friday to lay out their reasoning for their votes in the trial, which is being broadcast live on television.

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The biggest threat to Temer is Rodrigo Rocha Loures, according to a presidential aide who requested anonymity.

If he were to be charged, then that is where the political calculations come in.

After Benjamin voted, the court adjourned until later in the afternoon, when the other judges were expected to vote.

But nobody really knows the rules of this kind of election because it has never happened before.

Analysts say Mr Janot could soon up the ante by filing formal charges.

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Many want direct elections so they can choose a new leader rather than have it chosen by a Congress that is seen as part of the problem.

Brazil's electoral court keeps Temer in office