The Strategist

Brazilian MPs voted for the impeachment of President

04/18/2016 - 16:06

Congressmen of Brazil supported the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, according to Globo Portal. 367 MPs voted for her impeachment, against - 137, abstained - 7. Of the 513 deputies of the lower chamber, only two were absent on the historic vote.

José Cruz/Agência Brasil
José Cruz/Agência Brasil
Preliminary surveys conducted in the evening on April 16 in three national newspapers recorded a more modest overweight opposition - only five or six votes. Sociologists noted strong support of impeachment from the citizens’ part. According to a recent survey conducted by Datafolha, the initiative was supported by 61% of the respondents. However, the same survey showed the crisis of confidence in the government as a whole. So, 58% of Brazilians would like to dismiss Vice-President Michel Temer, which would take Rousseff’s seat in the case of impeachment. 

When the number of votes to oust President from office exceeded the minimum required threshold of 342 votes, MPs voted for the impeachment erupted with cheers and sang patriotic songs, reports the Financial Times.

Even before supporters of impeachment collected required number of votes, leader of the ruling Workers' Party in the lower house Jose Guimaraes conceded defeat, simply seeing such a wide landslide of his opponents. "Now the struggle will continue on the streets and in the Federal Senate," – quoted by Reuters. "We lost because the supporters’ coup were stronger", - he explained.

Supporters of impeachment were in a serious mood the day before. They asked the court to block the Rousseff’s TV and radio address to the nation. The opposition accused President in usage of blackmail and bribery in pursuit to block the impeachment, it is using. April 15, Brazil's Supreme Court rejected the public prosecutor's request to suspend the impeachment process.

Rousseff is accused of violating the federal budget law and the use of credits from state banks to disguise the budget deficit strongly raised on the eve of presidential elections in 2014. Rousseff herself does not consider it a crime as the same methods were used by her predecessors.  
Although charges formally brought against President are not related to corruption, the impeachment would hardly have come without the Petrobras scandal and prosecutors’ investigations, code-named "Operation Car Wash". Prior to joining politics, Rousseff had been heading Petrobras’ board of directors during quite a long time, committed massive violations as reported by prosecutors. Construction companies paid kickbacks to Petrobras’ top managers in exchange for large contracts. Large bribes were also given to politicians - according to prosecutors, both from the workers' Party, which could use the money to finance the election campaign, and its coalition partners and opposition. Law enforcement officers even intended to charge Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, with money laundering. According to them, he received from a construction company apartments in a residential complex on the coast and did not reported about the possession. To protect da Silva, Rousseff appointed him head of her administration (only Supreme Court can indict and judge a person in the position of minister). However, the judge of the Supreme Court has blocked the appointment.

Now, Senate needs a simple majority of vote to take Rousseff away from the office ; it is expected that the vote will be held in mid-May. Until that time, Rousseff will remain President. If more than 50% of senators vote for impeachment, she will have to leave the post for 180 days - the time of the hearing. Her duties at this time will be put on Vice-President Michel Temer, a member of the ruling coalition emerged from Brazilian Democratic Movement Party. He could stay in power until the elections in 2018, if Rousseff finally abandons the office. Members of the opposition suggest that vote on this matter may take place in June, and for the impeachment will require a minimum two-thirds majority of senators. In this case, Rousseff will be immediately removed from office and will lose the ability to hold public office for eight years. 

The capital of Brazil's has stepped up security. The voting hasn’t even begun, but the place near Congress is already full with thousands of supporters and opponents of the current president. Judging by the fact that the largest Brazilian cities were swept by millions of demonstrations demanding Rousseff’s resignation in mid-March, we can expect similar large-scale street protests.