Allies of Brazil's Rousseff see leadership vacuum as economy sinks
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA Aug 6 (Reuters) - Allies of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff have turned to her opponents to talk about filling what they see as a damaging leadership vacuum after losing confidence in her ability to pull the country out of an economic tailspin, party insiders said on Thursday.
Two parties broke ranks with Rousseff's governing coalition on Wednesday night, fueling a lopsided defeat on a lower chamber bill raising salaries for police officers, prosecutors and government attorneys. Even Rousseff's own Workers' Party voted for the spending bill.
The president's failure to control her political base in Congress, dramatized by House Speaker Eduardo Cunha's own very public break with Rousseff, has undermined her efforts to bridge a gaping fiscal deficit that threatens Brazil's prized investment grade credit rating.
A widening political kickbacks scandal involving contracts at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro has weakened Rousseff, put her leftist party against the ropes and rattled her allies, some of whom are suspected of receiving bribes.
But it is the worst economic downturn in 25 years that has undercut confidence in her leadership and raised the specter of impeachment for Rousseff just six months into her second term.
Vice President Michel Temer warned of the gravity of the situation during a news conference at the presidential palace on Wednesday, as he made a plea for unity to rescue the country from economic crisis.
Even as Temer sought to keep Rousseff's coalition from further disintegrating, though, fellow members of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), her main ally, dined with senators of the opposition Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) to discuss a pact to fill the leadership vacuum.
"There is a political crisis that is deepening the economic crisis, and the government's ability to handle its coalition in Congress has diminished drastically," said Wellington Moreira Franco, a PMDB leader who attended the dinner. Continuación...