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President Impeached, Ousted in Brazil
Sep 03, 2016

The Brazilian senate has impeached Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff for illegally manipulating government accounts. The exit of Brazil’s first woman President  brings the 13-year rule of the left-leaning Workers’ Party to an end.

  • Almost all the leading political parties, including new President Michel Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, were implicated in the Petrobras corruption scandal.
  • She was found guilty of moving funds between government budgets, which is illegal under Brazilian law.
  • 1 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 Dilma Rousseff's term until 1 January 2019.

Dilma Rousseff is in fact one of the very few high-profile politicians not to be implicated in the Petrobras scam. Moreover, her presidency was not quite the failure it is made to appear as. She completed her first term and was re-elected in 2014 with a clear majority. Through all this, she purposefully continued the welfare programmes initiated by her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, particularly in the education, health and housing sectors.

To understand Ms. Rousseff’s fall, one has to look instead at the complex layers of Brazil’s polity. It is a comparatively young democracy in which the Workers Party rose to power defying established structures. The power struggle within Brazil’s political class has never been a settled affair.

When da Silva was President, he was able to keep in check the class interests stacked against him with his immense popularity. Dilma Rousseff not only lacked his charisma and mass appeal, but also failed to right the economy when a steep fall in global commodity prices hit Brazil hard.

The consequences were devastating: for instance, the Brazilian economy grew 7.6 per cent in 2010, the year she won her first term; it is estimated to contract 3.2 per cent this year.

It is amid this economic gloom and nationwide anger against corrupt politicians in the wake of the Petrobras scandal that her opponents used the charges of fudging books to build a case for impeachment.

But the impeachment doesn’t solve the problems Brazil faces. The economy is still in the doldrums, and is unlikely to bounce back in the near future given the global headwinds.

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