| BRASILIA, June 6
BRASILIA, June 6 Younger lawmakers keeping
beleaguered Brazilian President Michel Temer's brittle coalition
from disintegrating are engaged in bitter internal debates with
their own party elders, calling for them to abandon the
With Temer's future on the line because of an ongoing
corruption investigation and an electoral fraud trial that
begins later Tuesday, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party
(PSDB) is considering leaving the cabinet and quitting the
coalition whatever the outcome.
The breakaway movement is led by a group of young PSDB
lawmakers in the lower house, known as "the black heads" for the
color of their hair, not yet gray from age. They fear corruption
accusations against Temer and his Brazilian Democratic Movement
Party (PMDB) could further tarnish their own party that is
already beset by scandals involving its own leaders.
Temer, who is accused of receiving millions in bribes from
giant meatpacker JBS SA, has won time from PSDB
elders in the Senate, as they have not found a consensus figure
to replace Temer should he be pushed from office and with
Brazil's long-suffering economy showing signs of
Both younger and older PSDB members, however, agree the
party must support Temer's labor and pension reforms to
consolidate an economic recovery crucial for their ambitions of
returning to the presidency after a 16-year dry spell.
According to PSDB Senator Ricardo Ferraco, an influential
politician in charge of drafting the labor reform, some of the
party elders are changing their minds and considering a breakup.
"Temer put a good government plan in place, but we cannot
ignore the corruption allegations," said Ferraco, 53, from his
Senate office overlooking the futuristic capital. "We are
convinced the reforms need to continue whoever is the
The party is split on whether it should wait to leave
Temer's coalition until the electoral court decides whether or
not to unseat him for alleged use of illegal funds to finance
his 2014 election campaign when he ran as Dilma Rousseff's
Ferraco said the party should break away this week even
before the court reaches a decision, which could take weeks or
Another party leader and member of its executive board, Jose
Anibal, called for caution and said the party should not leave
the coalition without a final decision from the court.
"A big majority doesn't want to backtrack on what we have
gained so far. We cannot lose those economic gains," Anibal
With three ministers in the cabinet and the third largest
representation in Congress, a PSDB break could precipitate the
fall of Temer, just one year after the impeachment of Rousseff,
whose leftist Workers Party ruled the country for 13 years.
Temer's demise could put an end to his reform agenda to cap
surging pension expenditures and close a widening fiscal deficit
that cost Brazil its investment grade credit rating.
The PSDB, created by breakaway leftist dissidents from
Temer's PMDB after the end of Brazil's 21-year dictatorship, was
credited with defeating years-long hyperinflation and recession
during its rule between 1995-2002.
For the first time in years, the PSDB has a clear shot at
winning the presidency in 2018 after grave corruption
allegations have weakened its arch rival the Workers' Party.
Lawmakers said that Geraldo Alckmin, the governor of the
country's most populous state, Sao Paulo, could be the PSDB
candidate for 2018. Alckmin's main ally and mayor of the city of
Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, is also a possible contender.
The PSDB, however, is also reeling from corruption
accusations against its leaders, including 2014 presidential
candidate Aecio Neves.
For first-time PSDB congressman Betinho Gomes, the party
should renew itself by distancing itself from corruption
"We don't want to boycott Brazil or the government, but our
electorate is demanding answers," Gomes said. "We should go our
separate way, but remain committed with the reforms."
(Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)