Brazil's Temer celebrates first year, expressing optimism

Brazilian President Michel Temer celebrated his first year in office on Friday with a discreet ceremony, expressing optimism about the weak economy and vowing to push a series of reforms through Congress despite job approval ratings verging on nil.

During a meeting with allies, Temer praised lawmakers for passing austerity bills that he says will put Brazil in the path of growth. He promised to deliver labor, pension and tax overhauls before his term ends in December 2018.

Brazil's economy has struggled in recent years and is expected to grow by less than 1 percent this year. Unemployment figures released last week showed joblessness up to 14 million from 13 million.

A recent Datafolha institute poll found 71 percent of Brazilians reject Temer's reforms and only 9 percent approve his job performance a year into office — four points below Rousseff's standing at the time she was suspended.

If Temer ran for re-election in 2018, 2 percent said they would vote for him, according to the poll, which interviewed 2,781 people April 26-27 and had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

The former vice president took over one year ago after congress impeached and later convicted President Dilma Rousseff for breaking fiscal laws.

"We are on the right track, with a long recession coming to an end," the embattled president said. "We started preparing the country for a new phase of development."

Temer said Brazil's high unemployment figures are "a heritage of uncontrolled spending" and promised to deliver "a restructured and happy" country in his second anniversary in office.