Impeachment divides Brazil in two.

Controversy regarding the legitimacy of impeachment

Bench’s Senate after the impeachment process. Eduardo Cunha on the center of the image.

The political process of impeachment, intended to dismiss any person from the Executive Power, prescribed in Brazil’s Constitution, is regulated by 85th and 86th articles, which determine in which cases an impeachment process can be open.

The process was requested for the judges Hélio Bicudo and Miguel Reale Jr. and lawyer and University professor, Janaína Paschoal, who accused Russeff of violating fiscal laws by using funds from state banks to cover budget shortfalls, the manipulation of decrees of expenditure without the authorization of the Congress and the corruption in Petrobras. The complaint suggest, this can be considered as a “responsibility Crime”, one of the hypothesis in which a president can be impeach according constitution.

Actual Events and Current Situation

  • 12/02/2015, The President of Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, accepted one of the reports against the current president, Dilma Rousseff, which blames her on committing “responsibility crime”
  • 03/17/2016 A Special Commission was instituted to analyze the process of President’s impeachment, constituted by 15 sessions.
  • 04/11/2016: After all the sessions, the voting results of the Commission were: 38 votes in favor and 27 against opening the process. As the result was favorable, the process was authorized and proceeded to the Senate to be approved or refused now by Senators.
  • 04/17/2016 In the Senate, voting results were 367 in favor, 137 against, 7 abstentions and 2 absences.
  • 05/05/2016 Eduardo Cunha, Chamber of Deputies’ President, was deposed by the Minister of Supreme Federal Tribunal, Teori Zavascki, accused of obstruction of the investigation against him in an assumption involvement in the ’’Operação lava-jato’’ and for lying in the judgment on their accounts in Switzerland.
  • So far, the requesting is still in the Special Commission, now in the Senate, the next step is to vote in a Senate Plenary Session to decide over the continuity of the process.

Controversy regarding the legitimacy of the process

On Wednesday 11, the plenum of the Senate will decide whether Dilma is dismissed or not. In the case they decide so, she would be replaced by Michel Temer by a maximum of 180 days, while the Camera of Senators make final decisions. Following an IBOPE inform, 26% of Brazilian population still support Dilma, meanwhile only 8% supports Temer. In any case, the great majority agrees that the best solution is to celebrate new elections without any of them.

Regarding the legitimacy or not of the impeachment, the controversy lies on the fact that it is seen by Dilma´s supporters as a coup d`Etat due to the fact that opposition is mainly corrupt. The main promotor of the process, Eduardo Cunha, has been recently suspended because of corruption scandals as well.

Following article 85th of the Brazilian Constitution, the impeachment is an exceptional measure that can only be used in a few circumstances, including attempting against budget law. The debate is not clear, since Dilma’s government practices have not been proved to be criminal, but merely “Pedaladas fiscais” which would not constitute a reason enough to justify the impeachment.

Impeachment, as a political process, can only be resolved by the Congress and the Senate, as the Supreme Court has not jurisdiction to judge “crimes of responsibility”. It can regulate the procedural question but not the substantive one.



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