A new phase of the impeachment process for leftist leader President Dilma Rousseff has begun. The Brazilian Senate has voted in favor of impeachment today by a simple majority vote and now Rousseff must leave office as her Senate trial begins. The vice president, Michel Temer, will assume office until Rousseff’s trial ends (if she’s exonerated), or for the remainder of her term in 2018 if she is found guilty. Temer is seen as much more market friendly than the once Marxist guerilla Rousseff. Brazilian markets have been buoyed at the mere idea of a Temer presidency.
The beleaguered president has been under intense scrutiny in Brazil for an enormous kickback scandal involving state-owned oil giant Petrobras, of which she was a board member during the time of the alleged graft scheme. Her impeachment is actually for another scandal, involving her administration’s use of accounting gimmicks to make the country look more financially stable than it actually was before her reelection in 2014. Despite the mounting evidence against her, and an exodus of politicians from her governing coalition and Party (at least 135 mayors aligned with the Workers’ Party have changed their party affiliations), Rousseff has been adamant that she is completely innocent and all of this is an orchestrated coup d'etat by the political right.
When some politicians are on the ropes and getting beat, they will begin to throw out almost anything and see if it sticks. The fact that the country is experiencing a severe recession is not helping. In this case, Rousseff is getting desperate and has offered several arguments on why her impeachment is void. Besides calling the entire process sexist, she has mostly stuck to the line that she was elected by a majority of Brazilians and anything short of a full term is an undemocratic coup. In other words, Rousseff is claiming she has a mandate to be president no matter what she does or what she gets convicted of for four years.
It is interesting to note that her Workers’ Party filed impeachment requests for all three democratically elected presidents preceding their government. Apparently her party is okay with the idea of impeachment as long as it doesn’t affect one of their own. Rousseff recently traveled to New York City to make the case to the UN that this is a coup. Why would a president leave the country and hand authority to her vice president if she is convinced he is part of the conspiracy to oust her from power?
Rousseff and her liberal defenders also keep making the case that her budget manipulations mirror those of previous administrations. No they don’t. Her administration’s budget shortfalls are 35 times greater than previous amounts combined. This is unprecedented and an abuse of their Fiscal Responsibility Law passed in 2000.
Corruption is rampant in Brazil and many in the legislature who voted in favor of impeachment are themselves being investigated for numerous crimes. In fact, the former speaker of the Lower House (and top enemy of Rousseff) has been recently removed from office by the Supreme Court - dispelling the argument that this has been a partisan witch hunt against Rousseff and her Workers’ Party.
To end corruption in Brazil, all politicians need to be held to a higher standard. Everyone must be made accountable for their actions – including the people at the very top.