The Brazilian Vice-President and the impeachment

This is the starting process for the permanent impeachment of the President. The next steps of the process are in the Senate. If the simple majority – 50% + 1 – of Senators accepts the decision then the process goes to the plenary, the President temporarily leaves the office and the Vice-President is officially in charge. To make the final decision at least 48 out of 81 Senators need to vote in favor for the impeachment. But what’s actually interesting about this particular process is the politics involved behind the impeachment process.
The vice-president of Brazil, Michel Temer, is a quite competent, knowledgeable and discreet politician. He is a lawyer with a doctorate in constitutional law, he was a deputy and was elected President of the Lower House three times. His party, PMDB, is the most influential in the country. As a matter of act, every president in the recent history of Brazil had relevant support from PMDB to be elected. In practical terms, a candidate doesn’t get elected President without PMDB’s blessing.

temer-e-dilma-no-palacio-do-planalto-1449535044033_1920x1080When former President of Brazil, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, left office in 2011, he had an 80% approval rate. In that kind of scenario the Brazilian saying says “He could get a tree elected if he endorses it.” Thus, Silva chose his former Minister of mining and energy and, in 2011, current chief of staff Dilma Rousseff for the position. She was a complete stranger to most voters and wasn’t in anyone’s list to run for anything, therefore a “tree”.

Elected President in 2011, the first four years of Rousseff in office were pitiful, but she was still harvesting the success of her predecessor. Besides, it was clear to any middle class citizen that merely followed the news closely in late 2013 that the government was spending more than it was earning. Despite the opposition’s alerts that cutting spending immediately was a must, Rousseff always answered that the opposition was just jealous about what she and Lula did for the poor. Furthermore, in 2014 it would have been very unpopular to reduce spending with elections and the world cup scheduled for 2014.
In order to overcome the corruption scandal, Rousseff’s made impossible to keep promises during her re-election campaign; she managed to win the elections with the tightest margin in history through support of the poor who believed her impossible promises. However, right after the victory, the corruption scandal she was facing got significantly bigger and was aggravated by the economic recession. To make matters worse, it was clear in 2013 the President was making all the necessary administrative and political mistakes to make the Lower House representatives angry. Some of these mistakes were too naïve to be true – such as trying to isolate the relevance of PMDB. In this scenario the vice-president saw a window of opportunity to take charge and, as a constitutional lawyer, took steps in line with the constitution to begin the impeachment process.
Temer meticulously prepared every step of the way. He has the knowledge, the position and the experience to offer the right thing – power, positions and money – for the right Congressman and he is doing it. Furthermore, Rousseff’s allegations of a coup is simply absurd because she enforced her right of defense in every step of the process. Therefore, at this point, the impeachment is more a matter of “when” than “if” Dilma Rousseff will leave office through the back door of the country and history.
On the bright side, the Federal Police and the Justice system are working surprisingly well together and both institutions have popular support. So corrupt politicians and companies that paid bribes are facing the penalties stated in the law. On the not so bright side, with so many negotiations on Temer’s end, it’s questionable that he did what he did for the sake of the country. It’s highly likely that Brazilians will continue to see plenty of corruption scandals in the future after Rousseff leaves office.

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