A very intense week in the capital of Brazil. Dilma Rousseff at least for now is officially an ex-president. And to increase the mess, technically there is no Vice-President today. To better explain this statement it’s important to provide a little explanation of the Constitution as well as what happened last week and it’s the subject of this article.
The Brazilian Constitution is clear, the President can’t be a defendant. The third in line for President of the Republic is the President of the Lower House, unfortunately, it’s not exactly clear right now who holds this position. Eduardo Cunha was the President of the Lower House, but Mr. Cunha became a defendant under corruption charges a few weeks ago. The catch is: it was eminent for the Vice-President Michel Temer to be in charge and, if anything happens to Mr. Temer, Mr. Cunha can’t be nominated President. Predicting a serious problem, the Supreme Court decided to remove Mr. Cunha from the presidency of the Lower House last Friday.
But removing Mr. Cunha doesn’t make matters easier. The bylaws of the Lower House clearly states the only possibility to declare vacant the Presidency before the term (currently February of 2017) is if the President resigns or dies. Mr. Cunha assures he won’t resign, experts say this is a loophole and it’s impossible to just force new elections. On the mean time the first secretariat, Congressman Eduardo Maranhão, was nominated temporary President of the Lower House. The amazing thing is that last Monday morning Mr. Maranhão declared invalid the Lower House’s session that voted for Ms. Rousseff’s impeachment. This is such an illegal act that President Maranhão faced a whole day of mockery from every legal expert the press could find and intense pressure from nearly everywhere to back off on his decision. So Mr. Maranhão decided to undo his act in the evening of the same day.
So, today – Senators voted at 7am – the Senate decided that Ms. Rousseff must temporarily leave office. For this temporary action it was necessary a mere 50%+1 of Senators. The next step is former President Rousseff has further opportunity for appeal and Senators will decide her final fate in up to 6 months. This next round requires 2/3 of the Senate voting for the impeachment and she looses her mandate permanently. The Problem for Ms. Rousseff is that 2/3 of the Senate mean 54 votes, and today 55 Senators voted for her temporary leave. Therefore, the odds aren’t on her side.
The future. The termination of the mandate via impeachment is almost certain and puts the citizen Dilma Rousseff in a dangerous legal position. She will answer many criminal charges – that likely to lead to jail – that it’s hard to understand why Ms. Rousseff insisted in the idea of coup. As the results in the Senate showed, today’s decision was very predictable and a resignation would make consequences much lighter. Now Michel Temer is the President of the country and is likely to make a better administration because, according to Former President Lula, Mr. Temer is choosing better staff. As a matter of act it’s nearly the same staff former President Lula insisted former President Rousseff nominate, but she was too stubborn to accept.