Brazilian Lawmakers Advance Impeachment Proceedings Against Dilma Rousseff

April 18, 2016

In a landmark vote on Sunday evening, Brazil’s lower house of Congress supported impeaching President Dilma Rousseff, The Associated Press reports. Amassing the 342 required votes for a two-thirds majority, lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies sent impeachment proceedings to the country’s Senate.

According to Reuters, Brazil’s ruling Workers Party conceded defeat in Sunday’s lower house vote to impeach President Rousseff. The party’s leader in the chamber, Jose Guimaraes said they would focus on blocking the move to remove her from office in the Senate.

“The fight continues now in the Senate,” he told reporters in the lower house of Congress.

Meantime, Brazil’s presidential chief of staff Jaques Wagner said the government is confident the Senate will dismiss the impeachment.

It’s the next step in a process that has polarized public opinion — though, according to recent polling, a majority of Brazilians supports impeaching Rousseff.

The Brazilian president is accused of tampering with state funds to make the economy look better than it actually was ahead of her 2014 re-election. She has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Many of her rivals leading the charge in these proceedings face corruption allegations themselves, as The New York Times reports.

Supporters of the former guerrilla have characterized the push toward impeachment as a coup attempt, while her opponents say she has mishandled the economy and broken major campaign promises.

“Emotions have been running high since the impeachment proceedings began in the Chamber of Deputies on Friday, with lawmakers holding raucous, name-calling sessions that last more than 40 hours,” The Associated Press reports.

As Reporter Catherine Osborn tells our Newscast unit, “Brazil’s deal-greased political system was on display this weekend as both sides rounded up votes down to the wire, and protestors are on the streets today across the country.”

This comes at a time of widespread disillusionment, she says: “Brazilians are frustrated with their entire political class and looking for catharsis.”

Lawmakers supporting impeachment needed to gain 2/3 of the votes to move the process forward to the Senate. And as we reported:

“A simple majority is needed in the Senate to begin a formal impeachment trial. At that point, Rousseff would be suspended from office and Vice President Michel Temer would take over the duties of president for up to 180 days.”

Two-thirds of the Senate would need to approve in order to permanently removing Rousseff from office.

But there are questions about what would happen next. As NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has reported, “Temer is under investigation, as is the speaker of the house, who would be next in line.”

She adds: “In fact, the political class has been so tainted by the corruption scandal that is not clear who will have credibility to lead Brazil out of what is a desperate situation.”

Have more questions about the political crisis sweeping Brazil? We broke down some of the big issues here.

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