Brasilia — Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted late Sunday to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, delivering a major blow to a long-embattled leader who repeatedly argued that the push against her was a “coup.”
Rousseff is accused of using accounting tricks in managing the federal budget to maintain spending and shore up support. She has said previous presidents used similar maneuvers and stressed that she has not been charged with any crimes or implicated in any corruption scandals.
However, she failed to secure the support she needed, and more than the necessary two-thirds of lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies voted to oust her.
“What an honor destiny has reserved for me!” shouted Bruno Araujo, a member of Socialist Democratic Party, upon making the decisive “yes” vote. Both cheers and boos erupted as Araujo waved his arm in the air.
With at least 342 of 513 deputies voting in favor, the measure passed. Several lawmakers had yet to vote, so the final tally could be an even wider victory for the opposition.
The measure now goes to the Senate. If by a simple majority the Senate votes to take it up and put the president on trial, Rousseff will be temporarily suspended.
In that case, Vice President Michel Temer would take on the presidential duties and the Senate would have 180 days to conduct a trial against Rousseff. Senate leader Renan Calheiros has suggested his body would consider the measure within a month, but no date has been set.
Rousseff has options. She could appeal to the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Brazil’s highest court, on the grounds that the accusations are faulty. She has hinted she might do so.
She could also heavily lobby senators and at the same time use the union muscle of her Worker’s Party to bring thousands to the streets to pressure the Congress.
“This is just beginning,” said Jose Guimaraes, who is a member of the Worker’s Party. “It’s going to be a slow and gradual war that we’ll undertake.” -AP/UNB