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Brazil: New speaker hails from corruption mired Dems

BRAZIL’S Congress elected a new speaker on Thursday from a conservative party mired in corruption allegations and linked to the country’s former dictatorship.

Former banker Rodrigo Maia of the Democratic Party was elected president of the Chamber of Deputies by 285 votes against 170 for the Social Democratic Party candidate Rogerio Rosso.

Vice-President Michel Temer said he was “very happy indeed” with the result.

In his first address as speaker, Mr Maia vowed to help pass what Mr Temer has called “unpopular measures” — as yet unspecified but likely to include cuts to social programmes and attacks on workers’ right.

Mr Rosso is closer to Mr Temer, whose two-month-old interim government — installed in the legislative coup against Dilma Rousseff — has been rocked by corruption scandals and a string of ministerial resignations.

But the Democrats stand out as corrupt even among the Brazilian opposition, with dozens of the party’s members facing charges or under investigation for a litany of accusations.

Mr Maia replaces Eduardo Cunha of Mr Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, who resigned in tears last week amid allegations that he had pocketed millions in the Car Wash bribery scandal at state oil firm Petrobras.

His election was seen as a return to the mainstream for the Democrats, a 1985 split from the now defunct Democratic Social Party, which was the successor to the ruling party during the 1964-85 military dictatorship.

Founded as the Liberal Front Party, it rebranded itself in 2007 to appeal to the urban middle class after losing its electoral base in north-eastern Brazil to Ms Rousseff’s Workers Party under her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Mr Temer faces snubs from world leaders at next month’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, an event he hopes will give him a popularity boost.

Few presidents or prime ministers have committed to attend the opening ceremony at the Maracana stadium.
An initial prediction of 100 has been revised down to 45.

China, a fellow member of the Brics trade bloc, is only sending Vice-Premier Liu Yandong, while the US may send Secretary of State John Kerry.

French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are the most high-profile guests confirmed so far.

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