Brazil President Dilma Rousseff removed from office by Senate

1 September 2016

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Brazil’s Senate has voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office for manipulating the budget.

It puts an end to the 13 years in power of her left-wing Workers’ Party. Ms Rousseff had denied the charges.

Sixty-one senators voted in favour of her dismissal and 20 against, meeting the two-thirds majority needed to remove her from the presidency.

Michel Temer has been sworn in as president and will serve out Ms Rousseff’s term until 1 January 2019.

The centre-right PMDB party politician had been serving as acting president during the impeachment proceedings.

During his first cabinet meeting since the vote, Mr Temer said his inauguration marked a “new era”.

Brazil's President Michel Temer looks at the the people in the galleries as he arrives to take the presidential oath at the National Congress, in Brasilia,
Mr Temer arrived in the Congress two hours after the impeachment vote to be sworn in

He asked his ministers to “vigorously defend” the government from accusations that Ms Rousseff’s dismissal amounted to a coup d’etat.

“We can’t leave one accusation unanswered,” he said during the meeting, which was broadcast live on television.

He also told ministers to work closely with the Congress to revive the Brazilian economy. Mr Temer is travelling to China to take part in a summit of the G-20 group of major economies.

The dismissal of Ms Rousseff has caused a rift between Brazil and three left-wing South American governments that criticised the move later on Wednesday.

Brazil and Venezuela recalled each other’s ambassadors. Brazilian envoys to Bolivia and Ecuador have also been ordered home.

Ms Rousseff lost the impeachment battle but won a separate Senate vote that had sought to ban her from public office for eight years.

Pledging to appeal against her dismissal, she told her supporters: “I will not say goodbye to you. I am certain I can say: ‘See you soon.'”

She added: “They have convicted an innocent person and carried out a parliamentary coup.”

A supporter of Dilma Rousseff, her mouth covered with a sticker that reads in Portuguese; Supporters of Ms Rousseff have held protests against acting president Michel Temer

Anti-Temer demonstrations were held in many cities, including Brasilia.

Ms Rousseff was suspended in May after the Senate voted to go ahead with the impeachment process.

She was accused of moving funds between government budgets, which is illegal under Brazilian law.

Her critics said she was trying to plug deficit holes in popular social programmes to boost her chances of being re-elected in 2014.

Picture of the Senate's plenary session taken during the impeachment vote against suspended President Dilma Rousseff, at the Senate in Brasilia, on August 31, 2016.Senators did not back a move to bar Ms Rousseff from public office for eight years

Ms Rousseff fought the allegations, arguing that her right-wing rivals had been trying to remove her from office ever since her re-election.


Background of Dilma Rousseff

Infographic showing the stages taken to remove Rousseff from office
  • Born in 1947, grew up in an upper middle class household in Belo Horizonte
  • Her father was Bulgarian immigrant and an ex-communist
  • Joined left-wing movement against Brazil’s military dictatorship which had seized power in 1964
  • Detained in 1970 and imprisoned for three years
  • Subjected to torture including electric shocks for her role in the underground resistance
  • Came to political prominence as the protege of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011
  • Sworn in as Brazil’s first female president in 2011
  • Re-elected to a second term in 2014
  • Impeached on 31 August 2016

She said that she was being ousted because she had allowed a wide-ranging corruption investigation to go ahead, which resulted in many high-profile politicians being charged.


Further remarks:

  • Dilma Rousseff was initially extremely popular among the Brazilian masses before 2015
  • In 2013, her government approval rating was 63% of Brazilians while her personal approval rate was 79%
  • Image that Dilma Rousseff portrayed to public was one of integrity, trustworthiness and competence
  • She prided herself on her administration’s record on investigating corruption claims, earning the respect and trust of the Brazilian populace who is undoubtedly discontented with the numerous past corruption allegations in politics
  • The drastic drop in Rousseff’s popularity can be attributed to the doubts cast on her integrity and supposed anti-corruption government when accusations of her being involved in the Petrobas corruption scandal surfaced
  • As her rise to power was highly leveraged on a reputation of honesty and intolerance for corruption, it is expected that substantial backlash would occur with the announcement of the scandal
  • However, one should question the legitimacy of Rousseff’s impeachment given her strong stance against corruption evident from her ruthless removal of many political leaders and clean track record for the first term of presidency
  • Questions should be raised about the possible hidden motives behind her impeachment, especially of those who stand to gain from her impeachment
  • If Rouseff were to be found innocent, it provokes one to ponder: is there any hope in reversing the political fate of a nation with corrupt leaders?

 

Posted by: Claudia

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