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The face of politics in Brazil changed by anti-corruption operations

AGORA moderator's picture

Brazil has been facing many challenges when it comes to establishing a democratic political platform. Since the end of the military regime in 1985, the country’s political spectrum has been shaken by many cases of corruption, in which not only Members of the National Congress but also those of political parties, and country presidents, have been accused of corruption. Recent events that led to the impeachment of the now-former president Dilma Rousseff, show how not only Dilma herself but also Members of the National Congress and even the new President are allegedly involved with corruption charges.

Ms. Rousseff faced charges and was recently found guilty of “violating fiscal laws by using loans from public banks to cover budget shortfalls, which artificially enhanced the budget surplus”. By late September 2015, there were over 35 impeachment request against Ms. Rousseff, but it was only in April 2016 that the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Mr. Eduardo Cunha, accepted the request for the impeachment.

Mr. Cunha, accepted the impeachment as a prerogative of his duties. At the same time, he was being accused of corruption, embezzlement, and having millions of dollars hidden in Swiss bank accounts, which led to his resignation in July. Before stepping down, Cunha proceeded with the impeachment procedure against Rousseff and formed a 65-member Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) to investigate the accusations against her. The CPI decided to pursue the impeachment in December of 2015.  

In April 2016, 367 out of 513 members of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies voted to proceed with Dilma’s removal from office. Even, though Brazil’s constitution is secular, most of the arguments used by Deputies in favor of the impeachment invoked the “will of God” and traditional family values, making arguments impossible to dismiss.

The second vote was held in the Senate, which happened in May. The vote in the Chamber of Deputies was presented by Cunha to the Senate. The subsequent vote in the Senate confirmed, 55 to 22, that Ms. Rousseff’s presidency would be suspended. As polls at showed, the approval ratings of Ms Rousseff at the end of her term were extremely low. By early 2016, her approval was under 10%. Hence, her suspension didn’t come as a surprise for either the public, Members of Parliaments and even Ms. Rousseff herself.

Mr. Michel Temer, vice president, took the political leadership of Brazil after the suspension of Dilma. As interim President, Temer had the authority to appoint ministers and even enact policy.

In the second vote, which took place in early August, the Senators decided, 59 to 21, that there was enough evidence against Ms. Rousseff to proceed to the trial phase. Still that same month, the final vote ensued, where 61to 20 Senators supported the impeachment of Ms. Rousseff, who was then found guilty of illegally moving money between public accounts to cover financial shortfalls. According to the charges made against Dilma, there was a delay on the payment USS1 billion for the Bank of Brazil for the financing of agricultural programs. The second charge against the president included, the signing, without the approval of the congress, of three supplementary credit decrees foreseen USS720 million, violating budgetary laws.

In late August, Ms. Rousseff and her witnesses were questioned by the Senate. During the proceedings, she stated “I know I will be judged, but my conscience is clear. I did not commit a crime”. Dilma compared the judgment and the accusations against her to the time when she was imprisoned and tortured during the military regime of the 1970’s.  The trial ended in the morning of the 30th of August with over 17 hours of final remarks and the Senators’ speeches. The upper chamber of Brazil’s parliament proclaimed Ms. Rousseff guilty of criminal charges and administrative misconduct regarding the federal budget. As a result, she was removed from office and Michel Temer stepped in as the new president of Brazil until next election in 2018.  The Brazilian Parliament was a driver behind Dilma’s removal from office, but it would not have been possible without the tremendous public support. By the end of Dilma’s mandate, 68% of the population supported her impeachment. Nearly a month later, however, the political turmoil is not yet over. Temer, like Dilma, is now facing corruption charges over claims that he was involved in an illegal ethanol-purchasing scheme. As a young democracy, Brazil is still facing serious challenges when it comes to establishing strong, transparent and accountable political institutions. The impeachment indicates a new period where corruption is being investigated, addressed and brought to the public eye. 

Joao Id, intern at AGORA Portal for Parliamentary Development

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In April 2016, 367 out of 513 members of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies voted to proceed with Dilma’s removal from office. Even, though Brazil’s constitution is secular, most of the arguments used by Deputies in favor of the impeachment invoked the “will of God” and traditional family values, making arguments impossible to dismiss. http://www.siyasat.pk/india-and-international-siyasat-f10.html