RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian Supreme Court justice was caught on tape calling the country's politics a "disaster" and saying the political system "doesn't have a minimum of democratic legitimacy," according to news reports Friday.
The Globo television network and the nation's top newspapers said Justice Luis Roberto Barroso was recorded without his knowledge during a meeting Thursday with university students. The court's press office declined comment on the matter Friday.
The justice's apparently off-the-cuff remarks seem to echo the sentiment of many Brazilians who are fed up with President Dilma Rousseff and her left-leaning Workers' Party, which has governed the country since 2003, but don't see the scandal-tainted opposition as an appealing alternative.
Rousseff, who is battling the biggest recession in decades and a corruption probe that has circled in on members of her inner circle, is facing impeachment proceedings in Congress on allegations she violated fiscal laws. But those in line to replace her have been implicated in the corruption scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras, and many here see the impeachment proceedings as a power grab.
"Politics are dead," Barroso is heard saying in the recording, aired by Globo. "We have a political system that doesn't have a minimum of democratic legitimacy."
"I'd say the problem with politics at this moment is the lack of an alternative," he said, in an apparent reference to the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, which broke from Rousseff's governing coalition this week. Vice President Michel Temer, who is first in line to take over the presidency if Rousseff is removed from office, is a member of the party, as are the second and third in the line of succession, the heads of the lower house and Senate.
"There is nowhere to run," said Barroso. "This is a disaster."
With a lower house vote on impeachment expected in mid-April, Rousseff and her allies are looking to secure the support or smaller parties. She needs 172 out of 513 votes to stop the impeachment proceedings.
A survey released earlier this week showed Rousseff's approval ratings at 10 percent.