Why is Dilma facing impeachment?

She is accused of breaking fiscal laws by shifting around government funds to plug budget holes.

Updated - September 20, 2016 02:28 pm IST

Published - May 11, 2016 11:37 am IST - SAO PAULO:

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, on Thursday, was impeached by the Senate after a months-long fight that laid raw the country’s fury over corruption and economic decay, hurling Latin America’s largest country into political turmoil just months before it hosts the Summer Olympics.

The vote comes amid an angry public mood over the South American nation’s worst recession in decades and a big bribery scandal at the state oil company Petrobras.

Yet, it is not tied to either of those. The Associated Press explains what’s behind the movement to oust her, and how it could play out.

What she is accused of doing?

Ms. Rousseff is accused of breaking fiscal laws by shifting around government funds to plug budget holes. Opposition parties say sleight-of-hand accounting allowed her to boost public spending to shore up support. Ms. Rousseff denies any wrongdoing, saying she didn’t do anything that was not common practice in all prior administrations.

She further argues that she isn’t being charged with a crime, which should be the basis for any impeachment.

What was the first step of impeachment?

Last month, the Chamber of Deputies voted 367-137 to send the impeachment measure to the Senate. The overwhelming favorable vote added momentum to the impeachment push.

The Senate had been seen as friendlier to Ms. Rousseff than the lower house and more likely to reject impeachment, but the lower chamber vote seemed to change that dynamic.

What is the latest?

If a simple majority of the 81 Senators vote in favour Wednesday, and several counts by newspapers suggest that will happen, then Ms. Rousseff will be suspended and Vice President Michel Temer will take over.

The Senate will then have 180 days to conduct a trial and vote whether to permanently remove Rousseff. If that happens, Mr. Temer would serve out Ms. Rousseff’s term, ending December 31, 2018.

Could anything stop the process?

The government and opposition parties have filed appeals to Brazil’s highest court on many aspects of the process, so the possibility exists that the court, or even individual justices, could intervene.

On Monday, the lower house’s acting Speaker Waldir Maranhao annulled the chamber’s April vote in favour of impeachment, arguing there were irregularities and it had to be re-voted on. However, under pressure from his party, he did an about-face Tuesday and rescinded his annulment.

Her supporters call it a coup

Government supporters call the impeachment push a coup because Ms. Rousseff has not been charged with any crime. They say Brazil’s traditional ruling class has been unnerved by the social movement under Ms. Rousseff’s Worker’s Party over more than a decade in power and is seizing the opportunity to take back power.

Opponents say the administration’s manoeuvring of funds was illegal and an attempt to mask problems in Latin America’s largest economy, such as huge budget gaps that have surfaced over the last year. They say impeachment can’t be considered a coup because it’s allowed in the Constitution.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.