Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is in the process of being impeached.
Following three days of contentious debate in the Chamber of Deputies, opposition parties sucessfully obtained a two-thirds majority in its vote to send Rousseff’s case to the Senate for trial. The decisive 324th vote out of the 513 deputies came Sunday night. At that time, there were also 127 against and six abstentions.
If the measure is approved by the Senate, Ms. Rousseff will be suspended from her position for a period of 180 days. After that time, she will go on trial for impeachment. The impeachment proceedings have been a major source of contention.
While voting and debates in the Chamber of Deputies were ongoing, crowds gathered outside the capital. Brazilian police were forced to erect a one-kilometer long barrier between opposing sides. Anti-government protestors supporting impeachment were clad in yellow and green, while their opposition wore red to support Ms. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. The reason behind the impeachment is ony adding fuel to the flame.
Ms. Rousseff is accused of concealing a budgetary deficit in order to win re-election in 2014. With Brazil in the throes of of its worst recession in decades, Ms. Rousseff is being blamed for the economic decline.
However, these fortunes have been reversed as the economy has gone into a tailspin, with the economy expected to contract another 3.5 percent for a second year in a row. Brazil’s economic woes and likely impeachment of the president come at a time when Brazil is preparing for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, an event that was meant to showcase Brazil as a rising power on the world stage.
Ms. Rousseff is also being accused of large-scale bribery and corruption, a scandal that has implicated dozens of politicians in the Worker’s Party and the coalition government itself. However, there are no direct connections showing any malfeasance on the part of Ms. Rousseff as of yet. Her supporters claim that the impeachment trial is merely a stunt arranged by politicians accused of more serious crimes as revenge.
Still, her opposition points out that she did serve as the chairwoman of Petrobas, the state-run oil company that is at the heart of the scandal. Because of the wide margin of votes in favor of impeachment in the Chamber of Deputies, the prospects do not bode well for Ms. Rousseff in the Senate.
Her impeachment would also set a dangerous precedent for Brazilian democracy by beginning an impeachment proceeding against a leader whenever their popularity dips. Indeed, Ms. Rousseff is the second Brazilian leader to be impeached since 1992, when the Senate voted to oust the president moments after he had given his resignation.
Even many of Ms. Rousseff’s allies have withdrawn their support for her, giving further momentum to an impeachment initiative concocted by her rivals.
If Ms. Rousseff is removed from her presidential position, this would be a major blow to the governing Workers’ Party, which was formed back in the 1980s as a counterforce against the militaristic regime at the time. The Workers’ Party is creditted for overthrowing the military regime and creating a democracy.
Ms. Rousseff’s possible successor Eduardo Cunha, who is accused of using a foreign bank account to hide $40 million in bribes, does not provide much of a better alternative.
Editor of the Folha De S. Paulo newspaper, Raul Juste Lores, says, “people are fed up with the mismanagement and economic mistakes of Dilma, as well as the corruption and arrogance of the Workers’ Party, but no one feels any optimism for what might come next.”