Brazil’s Congress Votes to Impeach President

By Madeleine Hillyer,
International News Assistant Editor

On April 17, Brazil’s lower house of parliament voted to impeach current President, Dilma Rouseff.

367 congressmen voted for her impeachment while 137 voted against such action. This left the lawmakers with 25 more votes than they needed to reach the two-thirds majority necessary to begin the impeachment process.

Calls for President Rouseff’s impeachment began when she was accused of misusing government finances before her reelection campaign in 2014. She is accused of lying about the state of government finances in order to increase her favorability on economic issues before the 2014 election.

Specifically, Ms. Rouseff has been accused of covering up the country’s budgetary deficit in 2014, illegally using funds from state banks to cover the spending discrepancies until after her re-election.

According to CNN, she is also being accused of corruption and bribery in a scandal that has engulfed the country. Although Ms. Rouseff is not directly involved in the scandal, it includes many members of her party, the Brazilian Workers Party. It also involves the state oil company, Petrobras, of which she is a former chair.

While many suspect her involvement, some say these accusations are being made by politicians with deeper involvement in the scandal to deflect attention away from their own wrongdoings.

One of these men is Eduardo Cunha, speaker of Brazil’s lower house. He is the man who accepted the petition for Ms. Rouseff’s impeachment and has been one of her fiercest critics.

Mr. Cuhna lacks neutrality in this case as prosecutors have also implicated him in the Petrobras scandal. He has been accused of taking over $5 million in bribes in exchange for contracts with the state-run oil giant.

Regardless of possible guilt in these scandals, Brazilian politicians certainly have the support of the people on their side. Ms. Rouseff has seen her favorability polls fall from 79 percent to 10 percent over the past three years, according to BBC. There have also been weeks of protests calling for her impeachment.

Now that the lower house of congress has voted to begin the process of the President’s impeachment, another vote will be held in the senate. If the impeachment receives a majority vote, an impeachment trial will begin. At the end of the trial, the senate will again vote. If this vote reaches two-thirds of senators voting for Ms. Rouseff’s impeachment she will immediately removed from office.

There is a high chance this will happen as sentiments in the Brazilian senate seem reflect those in the lower house of congress.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 26th print edition.

Contact Madeleine at
Madeleine.hillyer@student.shu.edu

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