Brazil Update #2 - Dilma and the impeachment

At Aarhus University the 2nd semester students and assistant professor Georg Fischer have looked into the chaos that is going on in Brazil at the moment. There is both a political and economic crisis in the country, the corruption scandal with the state-owned Petrobras, the possible impeachment against President Dilma and the corruption scandal against ex-president Lula. In this article we take a closer look at the impeachment process that is happening right now with Dilma Rousseff as key player.

How does the impeachment process work?
To begin the process, the speaker of the lower chamber of Congress has to accept a petition for impeachment, in order to decide whether the president should face impeachment.
If they vote no, nothing happens. If yes, the president must go on trial.
The speaker then forms a 65-member congressional panel to investigate the accusations and decide if removal of the president is warranted. The panel is comprised of representatives from all political parties.
The panel then writes a report with a recommendation for the president to either stay in office, or to be removed. This report must be made within 10 days.
Then the members of the lower chamber votes. If two-thirds of the 513 delegates in the lower chamber vote for impeachment, the matter then goes before the Senate, which in turn then decides whether to put the current president on trial.
In the event that the president is convicted, they have the possibility of appealing the decision. Also, should the president be impeached, the vice-president shall serve out the remainder of the term.
Where are we?
The recommendation to impeach has been made, and has moved to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, for a vote, expected on April 17. Dilma has indicated that she will appeal using any means possible, should she be indicted.
Tuesday the 12th of april the voting of the 65-member congressional panel was made, 38 for and 27 against the impeachment.
On the 17th of april the 513 deputies of the lower chamber voted about having the impeachment or not. The voting was 367 for, 137 against and 7 abstaining, furthermore 2 deputies did not vote at all.

What are the accusations?
The accusations against President Dilma Rousseff have to do with committing crimes against the The Brazilian Constitution, which may give rise to the process of impeachment of a democratically elected president. The main accusation against the government has to do with fiscal and administrative responsibility for the public accounts, specifically the accusation that the government failed to pay over more than 40 billion reais of fees/taxes to the Brazilian public banks, like Banco do Brasil and BNDES, thereby in effect borrowing money from such banks, something which is not allowed according to the Law on Fiscal Responsibility. Also, by doing so, the government misrepresented the real state of the public accounts and hid a huge deficit.

Edited by Christina Andersen-Stolberg

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