Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil is accused of illegally manipulating finances to hide Brazil’s growing public deficit.
She entered office with one of the highest popularity rates of any president in that country, but as the economy as gone downhill so has her popularity. Ever since the news of her corruption emerged, the Brazilian people have been out on the streets demanding that she resign.
An impeachment process against the president began in December 2015.Both she and the previous president, Lula da Silva, were accused of corruption, which was the more scandalous since their party, the Workers Party, was firmly anti-corruption. Many people still support her and say that the impeachment process is a coup against a democratically elected president, with which the president has been very clear that she agrees.
In the past few days, the impeachment process has been like Ross and Rachel’s relationship in Friends. Waldir Maranhão, the new speaker for the lower chamber of the Parliament, announced on Monday that he would try to annul the impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff. He planned to do this by annulling the vote that had taken place in the parliament on April 17th in favour of continuing the impeachment. At midnight on the same day, he changed his mind and said that the impeachment would go ahead.
After this ridiculous episode, on Wednesday 11th May it was the Brazilian Senate’s turn to vote. The rules were strict on the day of the debate, after a session where senators asked questions every senator was allowed only fifteen minutes to make a speech, after this time the microphone was cut off. Even so they were there from 9am (UTC -3h) on Wednesday morning, and the results were announced at Thursday morning at around 7am (UTC -3h). The vote passed with 55 in favour of continuing the impeachment process and 22 against.
This means that President Rousseff is now suspended for up to 180 days while the Senate judges whether she should return to office, if they vote to allow her to reassume the presidency the process ends. Otherwise, she is removed from office permanently.
During the president’s 180-day suspension her vice president Michel Temer will take over the presidency. He is the leader of the PMDB, a centre right party. He is also accused of money laundering, and could be impeached under the same law that saw president Rousseff impeached. However, this is unlikely as he has the support of the parliament, unlike ex-president Rousseff. President Temer has already announced most of his ministers, the interim government will be mainly composed of white men, a significant change after the country had its first female president.
President Rousseff has defended herself the whole way through these proceedings, asserting that she is innocent, that she ‘may have made mistakes, but not committed any crime’. She claims that the proceedings are a right-wing coup against herself, her government and Brazilian democracy, saying that it removes the power from the 54 million Brazilians who voted for her.
You might think that any corruption should mean the end of a politician’s time in office, however the Brazilian Senate appears to have removed one politician accused of corruption, and put another one accused of the very same crimes in her place.