Brazil’s political turmoil is going into overdrive, exacerbated in recent days by the discovery of a tape recording allegedly of President Michel Temer approving some US$600,000 in hush money to pay off a disgraced political ally. Temer denies wrongdoing and is rebuffing calls to resign even though the new reports are consistent with others that implicate the Brazilian leader and his associates. Along with leaked audio of damning conversations, a prominent news outlet has published photos said to show the wads of cash used for the payoffs.
Despite the severity of this crisis, as a scholar of the political economy of corruption, I see some grounds for optimism. As Paul Lagunes and I have previously written for The Conversation, the ongoing investigations and convictions demonstrate that, overall, Brazil’s independent prosecutors and judges remain deeply committed to investigate and punish high-level corruption. They have strong public support, and their efforts to end the impunity of the business and political elite are beginning to succeed. Continue reading