(Adds reports on plan for direct elections)
SAO PAULO Dec 12 Former Brazilian President
Fernando Henrique Cardoso ruled out a return to the top job in
an interview published on Monday, amid speculation he could lead
an interim administration if the current incumbent is forced to
Cardoso told O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper that politicians
needed to take action to address voters' anger over corruption
scandals and a struggling economy. In the interview, which was
done last week, he said any move to hold elections before
current President Michel Temer's term ends in December 2018
"would do no good for the country".
"I am not a candidate," Cardoso, who presided over Latin
America's biggest economy from 1995 to 2002 and is credited with
seeing the country through a severe economic crisis at the time,
Speculation over a possible early vote has risen amid
Brazil's harshest recession in eight decades and fallout from a
massive corruption scandal involving political kickbacks
centered on huge contracts at state firms.
Just short of two-thirds of voters think Temer, who has been
linked to corruption in leaked state's witness testimony, should
resign by the end of the year, according to a survey released by
pollster DataFolha on Sunday.
Temer took over after the impeachment of leftist Dilma
Rousseff earlier this year. He pledged to return Brazil to
growth by cutting spending and curbing debt growth. Yet, the
economy plunged deeper into recession in the third quarter.
Brazil's constitution states that indirect elections are
held and Congress determines who becomes president if the office
is vacated after two years of a presidential term. Rousseff took
office with Temer as vice president on Jan. 1, 2015.
Yet with a sweeping corruption scandal enveloping scores of
members of Congress, citizens and some politicians are pushing
for a constitutional amendment that would allow for direct
elections even after the two-year mark in a presidential term.
Miro Teixeira, a congressional deputy of the leftwing REDE
party, proposed such an amendment in June. He said he would push
hard for its passage, O Globo newspaper reported him as saying
its Monday edition.
Yet any constitutional changes require the approval of
three-fifths of deputies and senators in two votes in each
chamber. Teixeira's amendment would have trouble passing - and
could not be taken up until after Congress' recess, which begins
Dec. 19 and lasts until Feb. 1.
But with the extreme political turbulence and corruption
scandal reaching into Congress, some analysts say such a measure
could gain traction, especially if Brazilian protesters took to
the streets in large numbers to demand it.
Cardoso told Estado that scenario would deeply harm Brazil.
"You just don't keep a democracy running without dialogue,
without negotiating," Cardoso said. "The pressure has to ease a
little," he noted, referring to rifts among politicians.
Calls to Cardoso's office to confirm his comments went
(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Brad Brooks; Editing
by Andrew Heavens and Paul Simao)