Brazil President’s Mandate Is Now in the Hands of the Senate

Brazilian House of Representative votes for president Rousseff's impeachment Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved the admissibility of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment request. With this outcome, the future of the presidential mandate is now in the hands of 81 senators. 

This Tuesday, April 19, the process should be read on the Senate’s floor and party leaders should indicate 42 lawmakers to form the special committee examining the case in the Senate, with 21 members and 21 substitutes.

The committee has 48 hours to elect the chairperson and the special investigator to deliver the report. Because of the April 21 holiday, on Thursday, this should only happen on Monday, April 25.

All parties represented in the Senate will join the committee in proportion to their ranks, that is, biggest parties will have more members in the committee. The committee will have then ten days to prepare the report on accepting or rejecting the impeachment proceedings.

It is not clear yet whether days will be counted based on calendar days or on working days. The recommendation will be voted at the committee and regardless of the outcome, the proceedings will also be discussed and voted on the Senate’s floor. In both cases, the vote will be by simple majority.

If approved the Senate approves the admissibility of the impeachment request, which would probably be decided on May 10 or 11, President Dilma Rousseff will be notified and will temporarily step down the office for a maximum period of 180 days meanwhile senators would conclude the process.

For this period, Vice-President Michel Temer would take office. Even if ousted, Rousseff will enjoy her rights to wage, her residence at the Alvorada Palace, and her personal security. During this period, she would only be prevented from performing her functions as head of state.

At this stage, the proceedings will return to the special committee for investigation. At this moment, the president will have 20 days to put up her defense. The committee shall examine all the arguments presented for ousting and for defending Dilma Rousseff. Documents and evidences shall also be attached to the process, but for this there is no deadline set by law.

Brazilian House of Representative votes for president Rousseff's impeachment

Based on the documents, a new recommendation reaching a conclusion will be voted at the special committee and on the Senate’s floor, also by simple majority. If this other recommendation supporting the president’s impeachment is approved, the final vote on the case will be scheduled.

The session at the Senate will be chaired by the Supreme Court (STF) Chief Justice. For this last vote, taken only at the Senate’s floor, two-thirds of the votes are necessary to approve the president’s impeachment. This means that 54 senators, out of the 81 senators, need to vote for ousting the president.

Rousseff’s impeachment arrives at the Senate amid several questions about the deadlines set by laws and by internal rules.

Senate President Renan Calheiros (member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party—PMDB) will bring together the parties leaders and consult Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski about the proceedings at the Senate.

Lewandowiski’s opinion is considered essential so that the rite is not challenged in court by parties. The expectation is that, after this consultation, the schedule for the proceedings may be subject to changes.

Even the moment when the Supreme Court Chief Justice will participate in the process is a reason for doubts.

Another question concerns the committee’s composition that will previously examine the admissibility of the impeachment request. The deadline set for producing and voting a report at the committee is also being questioned.

Unlike at the Chamber of Deputies, which had 10 floor sessions as a deadline, the law establishes ten days at the Senate. However, it is not clear yet whether days will be counted based on calendar days or on working days.

The Fight to Survive

President Rousseff lost a crucial impeachment vote in Brazil’s lower house on Sunday evening, making her removal ever more likely and deepening the country’s political crisis. Rousseff’s opponents easily obtained the two-thirds majority of votes in the 513-member Chamber of Deputies needed to pass the impeachment measure.

Voting one by one in a rollicking marathon session broadcast live on television to a rapt Brazilian public, the pro-impeachment lawmakers celebrated wildly on the floor of parliament as they vaulted past the minimum threshold needed to repudiate her.

Lawmakers Bruno de Araujo and Daniel Coelho assured votes 342 and 343 needed to reach the two thirds, as other members broke into shouting, singing and dancing.

“To rescue the hope that was stolen from the Brazilian people, I vote yes,” said Shéridan de Anchieta, one of the many anti-Rousseff lawmakers whose statements brought rowdy applause and jeers to the chamber. One lawmaker fired confetti into the air from a toy pistol after voting to sack the president.

The cascade of votes to boot Rousseff from office less than two years after her reelection was a powerful display of her abject political collapse and the extremes of her unpopularity.

Rousseff, 68, is the hand-picked successor of iconic former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and their Workers’ Party once seemed unassailable as it led Brazil through an extended period of prosperity that lifted tens of millions out of poverty.

She and her supporters repeatedly denounced the impeachment attempt as “a coup” tantamount to an interruption of Brazilian democracy, which was restored in 1985 after 21 years of military rule

Yet with Rousseff’s approval rating hovering around 10%, Sunday’s vote turned into a visceral repudiation of the 13 years that she and Lula have been in power. It was a stunning reversal of fortune in a country where everything seemed to be going right just a few years ago, when a global commodity boom had the Brazilian economy purring.

Now Brazil is mired in its worst economic slump since the 1930s. A frightening Zika epidemic continues to spread. With the country’s leaders consumed by political combat and a broad corruption scandal, Brazil today is a far angrier and more divided country than the one picked in 2009 to host this summer’s Olympics.

The impeachment measure will now move to Brazil’s Senate, where only a simple majority is needed to force Rousseff to step down. Senators would have 180 days to conduct formal impeachment hearings before a final vote to determine her fate while Vice President Michel Temer, Rousseff’s former running mate and now rival, assumes temporary control.

“It was a battle,” said Miguel Hadad, an opposition leader who voted for Rousseff’s removal. “So it is a moment of satisfaction for us, and also for the millions who went to the streets to demand impeachment.

Rousseff isn’t accused of stealing, but her opponents said she should be impeached because her administration allegedly tried to cover up budget gaps with money from government banks. She has denied any wrongdoing.

However many Brazilians unhappy with Rousseff also are wary of the lawmakers leading the impeachment push, more than half of whom are under investigation themselves on suspicion of corruption, bribery and other misdeeds, including Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house, who orchestrated the vote.

Demonstrators on both sides of Brazil’s political divide held rallies and street protests here and nationwide Sunday. Many followed the voting in Congress on big screens as if watching a soccer match.

According to police estimates, the crowd of more than 50,000 impeachment supporters at a rally Sunday outside Congress was twice as large as the anti-impeachment group that marched through Brasilia in Rousseff’s defense.

Following the Counting

Brazil stopped this Sunday (Apr. 17) to watch the session in the Chamber of Deputies vote on accepting President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment request.

In the afternoon, the electronic vote board on the wall of the chamber’s floor registered that 504 deputies, out of the 513, were attending the session. While parties leaders alternated in the gallery addressing on the vote of their respective parties, lawmakers for and against the impeachment shouted “There will be no coup” and “Impeachment now.”

Rio de Janeiro

Three giant screens were set by pro-impeachment demonstrators on Copacabana beach showing the session of the Chamber of Deputies voting on moving forward proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. When deputies against impeachment speak, muffled voices shout from the crowd “Down with Workers’ Party”. When deputies supporting Rousseff’s impeachment speak, they are applauded by demonstrators.

Retired journalist Janaína Sousa is confident about approving the impeachment. “This was the first stage of cleaning-up, then we continue cleaning so that the country can really have a chance. While we have thefts, this country is not going to advance.”

Public relations manager Edmir Simas, 52, also believes that the impeachment is the first step to eliminate corruption from the country. “First we put out the fire and then we rebuild our country. And down with Cunha. He will be the next to be ousted,” he said, referring to Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, being probed by Operation Car Wash.

Earlier Copacabana beach was the stage for demonstrations against the impeachment when more than 20 singers of Brazilian funk alternated themselves with representatives from social movements, artists, and judges.

“It’s the funk music against the coup,” said Rômulo Costa, founder of Furacão 2000 funk music group and organizer of the event, attended by young people, residents of communities, located near Copacabana, including the following communities: Pavão-Pavãozinho, Chapéu Mangueira and Rocinha, Vidigal, and residents of Baixada Fluminense.

São Paulo

In São Paulo, protesters against ousting President Dilma Rousseff met in the square of Vale do Anhangabaú, in São Paulo downtown, where a large screen was also set for protesters to watch the vote. They have also set a stage where debates are promoted and musical concerts are performed.

In the crowd, there were groups playing percussion instruments. Raising flags of trade unions and social movements, several participants were dressed in red and held banners and stickers, claiming that the proceedings against Rousseff were a coup. “They’re ousting her to elect whoever they want, without new elections,” complained William Nadoni, 22.

For the young man, there is no reason for the president to leave Palácio do Planalto, the presidential office. “I’m here for democracy that is at risk with this coup being mounted. Rousseff is squeaky-clean, performed no illegal act,” the young man pointed out. He came from Interlagos, the South Zone of São Paulo, even though he is not a government’s supporter.

In the view of political scientist Daliane Saroba, 38, suspicions about the deputies leading the impeachment proceedings are one of the main problems in the process. She said it is not confident about the voting outcome this evening. “I believe she will not escape,” she declared.

In the Paulista Avenue, usually closed for the traffic of cars on Sundays, demonstrators pro-Rousseff’s impeachment, unlike what happened in previous protests, in which all the avenue was taken by the crowd, protests occupied only one block between São Paulo Art Museum and the building of São Paulo State Industry Federation

Most people were dressed in the colors of the Brazilian flag: green, yellow, blue and white. Travel consultant Márcia Guzardi, 60, explained the reasons she was there: “We have to believe. I trust in my country. I believe that with a lot of people together, we will be able to change. I’m struggling for a better country and not for a party,” she explained.

Meanwhile, for lawyer Rafael Garcia, 31, one of the worst setbacks is unemployment. “People are suffering without security, health, and housing, and especially due to the rise in unemployment rate, affecting ten million people.

“And behind every unemployment, there is a family. Companies are bankrupting, the US dollar is close to R$4.00. We have lost Petrobras and we are embroiled in the world’s greatest scandal of corruption. This has to change,” he vented.



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