The vast majority — 61 of Brazil’s 81 senators — voted Wednesday to impeach the country’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, amid a political corruption scandal and an economic recession.
The vote’s expected outcome ends the impeachment process that began in May 2016, when the Senate voted to suspend her presidential duties. It also ends 13 years of consecutive rule by Brazil’s Workers’ Party.
Making the case for the prosecution, Miguel Reale Junior passionately argued for Rousseff’s removal as a “big demonstration of democracy to the world.”
Rousseff was accused of doctoring government accounts ahead of her re-election, violating fiscal responsibility laws. The accounting technique is known as “pedaladas” or fiscal pedaling, and creates a false impression of state finances.
But many believe these allegations are a pretext for the political firestorm circling the country’s leadership, signified by Rousseff’s dismal approval ratings. Brazil is “suffering from a toxic cocktail of economic, political and public health crises,” Vikram Mansharamani argued in a PBS NewsHour column.
Rouseff maintained her innocence during testimony to lawmakers. “They took advantage of an economic crisis,” she said. “I didn’t commit the crimes I’m being accused unfairly and arbitrarily.”
Rousseff had won a second term in 2014 by a narrow margin, earning 51.6 percent of the vote.
Her remaining term — two years and three months — will be filled by interim President Michel Temer. His popularity with the public, however, is not much better than Rousseff’s. Only 13 percent of Brazilians considered his rule favorable in June.
Brazilians will have the opportunity to elect a new president in 2018.