On May 12, the Brazilian Senate voted to suspend Mrs. Rousseff for six months in order to begin an impeachment trial. The Vote was preceded by a series of political moves both by the government and by the opposition.
After the vote at the lower house on April 17 in which the opposition succeeded to gather 367 votes, against 167 votes from her supporters. The impeachment proceeding was forwarded to the Senate. However, things are not so simple in Brazilian politics. Eduardo Cunha, the president of the chamber of deputies was stripped of his duties by the Supreme Court (May 05) due to several corruption allegations. Despite the decision of Justice Teori Zavascki, he will remain eligible to being judged at the Supreme Court (STF).
According to Rodrigo Janot, Prosecutor General of Brazil, Mr. Cunha would have used his powers to intimidate and to force other politicians and public civil servants to slow down investigations against him. Removing Cunha from his position became urgent, taking into account that he would become the second in line to succeed the president in case Michel Temer replaces Mrs. Rousseff.
A reprieve for Dilma? Cunha’s successor, Waldir Maranhão, a delegate of PP (Progressive Party, center) made himself known right after taking the seat of president of the Chamber. On May 09 he accepted a petition drafted by José Eduardo Cardozo, Attorney General (he was Justice Minister under Dilma until February) who is now in charge of her legal defence. Maranhão’s decision annulled the session of April 17. As a result, he not only surprised most Brazilians but also changed the course of events, since senators had been already notified to vote on the impeachment.
The decision requires a more detailed analysis. Maranhão is also accused of receiving illicit funds in the Petrobras Scandal. On April 17 he voted in favor of Rousseff stating “in defence of democracy”. On May 09, he justified his position declaring that the session of April 17 was a “pre-judgement” against the President and it did not respected the “right of defence of the President”. In his press release he added:
This is the reason why I have annulled the sessions of April 14, 16 and 17, in order to call for a new session to deliberate the question.
On May 10, Maranhão changed his position and annulled his previous annulment. But why? Apparently he faced pressure from his own party, and also from other deputies who began working behind doors to vote against his decision. Such situation damaged the public image of politicians.
Mrs. Rousseff didn’t give up. Before the vote at the Senate, her defence appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the impeachment proceedings. The appeal was rejected by Teori Zavascki, the writ allowed the Senate to conduct its voting session.
The opposition needed 41 votes out of 81 senators, i.e., a simple majority. At the end, 55 senators voted for the impeachment against 22, there were two abstentions. Dilma was already replaced by Michel Temer, the Vice-President. If condemned, Mrs. Rousseff will be stripped of her mandate for good.
Temer promised to reestablish confidence with international investors. That’s the reason why he invited Henrique Meirelles, former president of the Central Bank between 2003-2010. Meirelles will have the difficult task of boosting economic activity and creating jobs.
Recently Temer annonced the names for the first echelon of his administration. Out of 24 ministers – none of whom are women nor black. Such measure was extremely criticized due the fact that Brazil in one of the most diverse countries in the world. Besides, at least six members of his cabinet face corruption charges in Lava Jato (operation “Car Wash”). On Tuesday (May 24) after one week in power, his Planning Minister Romero Juca had to step aside due to the leak of a tape in which he was planning to obstruct the investigations of that inquiry. He is also accused of corruption.
Pressure is mounting against Brazilian politicians, if Temer doesn’t deliver the results he promised, soon he’ll have to cope with demonstrations. After all, his popularity is already low.