President Temer can stay in office, Brazil’s top electoral court rules

BRASÍLIA – Brazil’s President Michel Temer has been cleared of charges that he received illegal campaign funds in a 2014 election, a ruling that allows him to stay in office.

By four votes to three, the Superior Electoral Court on Friday rejected claims that illegal money was used in the campaign when Mr. Temer was the running mate of impeached President Dilma Rousseff three years ago.

However, the embattled president still faces a separate corruption probe. Temer is being investigated separately by federal prosecutors for corruption, obstruction of justice and racketeering as part of a sprawling anti-graft probe.

“We cannot be changing the president of the republic all the time, even if the people want to,” Gilmar Mendes, TSE chief judge, said on Friday.

“There are serious proven facts but not enough to annul the mandate.”

Mendes, who backed the impeachment of Rousseff, also said the country should not expect the court to solve the current political crisis.

The verdict avoided the annulment of the Rousseff-Temer 2014 election victory and the removal of the president from office.

If he were to be charged, then that is where the political calculations come in. According to the Brazilian constitution, if there are fewer than two years left in a term, Congress will choose a caretaker president to govern until the next elections, due in 2018.

Temer took office last year, promising a “new era” for Brazil following Rousseff’s impeachment over accusations of taking illegal state loans to patch budget holes in 2014.