Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Could Face Impeachment
The Brazilian economy is on the wane and calls for impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff are on the rise. Opposition parties have asked that Congress impeach the president, claiming that she tinkered with government financial accounts to benefit her re-election last year. Now, the opposition– and even some political allies – are beginning the formal steps to try the president for crimes that they claim violate Brazil’s fiscal responsibility law.
The fiscal responsibility law, enacted in 2000, established a framework governing fiscal institutions, as well as the regulatory bodies that oversee them. The law also requires transparency in fiscal matters. Public officials who violate the law could face penalties, including prison, explains the Inter-American Development Bank.
Hélio Bicudo, a co-founder and former member of Rousseff’s Workers Party, filed for impeachment of the president, a request that has drawn support from opposition parties. According to Bloomberg Business, Bicudo makes the case that Rousseff doctored financial accounts and broke campaign finance laws. Bicudo also holds Rousseff responsible for the alleged corruption at state-run oil company Petrobras.
Rousseff, however, stands firm on her record, calling the impeachment effort an attempted coup d’état. Her lawyers have said that Rousseff’s accounting practices were no different than prior administrations and that there were no violations of Brazil’s fiscal responsibility law. But the impeachment request comes at a time of political weakness for Rousseff. The president narrowly won re-election just six months ago and she continues to be dogged by the Petrobras scandal, as well as an economic downturn taking Brazil into recession.
Political observers say there is no certainty that ousting Rousseff from office will address any of Brazil’s economic ills. “There is no person at this moment that would present a strong sense of hope for the population,” Bernardo Sorj, director of the Edelstein Center for Social Research think tank, told the International Business Times.
It now falls to Eduardo Cunha, head of the lower house of Congress, to determine whether to proceed with impeachment proceedings. He has already rejected five of 18 impeachment requests sent to Congress for failing to meet sufficient legal grounds, according to Bloomberg. If Cunha accepts the impeachment request, two-thirds of the 513 members of Congress must vote for impeachment before the case can proceed to either the Senate or the Supreme Court.