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Brazil court starts trial that could unseat President Temer

Brazil court starts trial that could unseat President TemerBrazil's Supreme Electoral Court was to meet Tuesday on whether to invalidate the 2014 presidential election because of illegal campaign funding and to force President Michel Temer to step aside, AFP reported.

The court, known as the TSE, could in theory scrap the results of the election, forcing either a snap election or for Congress to pick a new interim leader in Latin America's biggest country.

This would be a bombshell for a country already wallowing in two years of recession and the fallout from the massive "Car Wash" corruption investigation.

Analysts say there is little chance of this, however, with Temer likely to keep his seat until regularly scheduled polls at the end of 2018.

The issue dates back to 2014 when Temer was vice president to leftist Dilma Rousseff, reelected to the presidency. Last year, Rousseff was removed in an impeachment vote and Temer took over the top job.

Temer and Rousseff are now accused of taking undeclared campaign funds or bribes from corrupt donors. The TSE's job is to rule on whether the election was fatally compromised.

Both Temer and his former partner on the presidential ticket deny any wrongdoing.

Deliberations were to begin Tuesday and end on Thursday.

Brazilian media report that the judge overseeing the case, Herman Benjamin, will recommend the full panel to impose sanctions against Rousseff and Temer, with new elections.

However, Temer's center-right PMDB party and allied parties control Congress and they have the backing of big business. Following the Rousseff impeachment, there is little appetite for yet another abrupt change of president just when economic reforms are underway.

Since he took over, Temer has been plagued by rock-bottom approval ratings and a wave of corruption allegations against his close allies.

Despite his unpopularity, Temer says he will push through far-reaching austerity reforms to fix the broken budget and serve out the rest of Rousseff's original term until 2018.
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