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Brazil's Rousseff: The case for and against impeachment

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

03-28-2016 18:13 BJT

By Zhou Zhiwei, executive director of the Brazil Center of the Institute of Latin American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences(CASS)

As the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics approaches, stormy political turbulence in Brazil has captured the world's attention.


In March 2016, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was under investigation by federal police, but he later joined Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff's cabinet, and Lula's nomination  had mysteriously suspended. All that happened in just two weeks.

Soon afterwards, everything seemed to unravel. The opposition party and the national media had called for presidential impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives.

In December 2015, Eduardo Cunha, head of the House of Representatives, had endorsed presidential impeachment hearings jointly introduced by opposition members.

They say Rousseff should be held responsible for the Petrobras scandal when she was employed as board chairman of the company.

From 2003 to 2010, Rousseff had allegedly misappropriated public bank funds to balance Tesouro Nacional accounts without receiving approval from Parliament.

Nevertheless, anti-impeachment advocates argue that Rousseff's actions should be deemed involuntary crimes, despite her being responsible for the results.

House Speaker Cunha favors impeachment, even though he is a member of Rousseff's alliance party. He holds a deep grudge against her, and has publicly joined the opposition party.

The Workers' Party (Brazil) has won four nationwide elections, holding on to power for the last 12 consecutive years.

The superiority of Workers' Party over the largest opposition party has shrunk from approximately 23% in 2002 to 3 % in 2014. The Brazilian Social Democrat Party (BSDP) was defeated in the last elections, but a slight gap means the party could overtake The Workers' Party (Brazil).

The Brazilian Social Democrat Party's strategy is to increase its influence. Several major media outlets controlled by BSDP have launched attacks against The Workers' Party (Brazil).

The declining strength of The Workers' Party (Brazil) has led to a growing divergence between The Workers' Party (Brazil) and Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, its largest alliance party.

In 2015, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party claimed to  participate in 2018 elections as an independent party.

Vice President Michel Temer, chairman of Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, had published a Defection Declaration against Rousseff.

Yet to ensure the party coalition's leading role in the House, Rousseff had agreed to a compromise with them, which had caused other leftist alliance parties' to feel discontent.

Hence, taking the Petrobras scandal into consideration, financial irregularities, economic depression as evidence to criticize The Workers' Party (Brazil), opposition parties had exploited the ruling coalition's slackness, magnifying problems, and starting the impeachment process.

The current crisis has caused the greatest impact on the Brazilian executive, legislative and judicial systems since re-democratization in 1985.

The Ministry of Justice and Federal Police hold contradictory functions of anti-corruption boundaries.

The Federal police monitored the President's phone. Qualifications for Lula's participation in the cabinet had triggered judicial controversy, which shows Brazil, as a young democratic country that needs more time to establish stable democratic institutions.

Brazil's judicial enforcement tends to support the party it favors, which has deviated from the principle of judicial justice, distortions and imbalances of executive, legislative, and judicial powers.

Frequent confrontations between political forces have cast a looming shadow.

Jan Rocha, British correspondent who has tracked The Workers' Party (Brazil), said that anyone who claims to predict political trends in Brazil in the coming months would likely be wrong.

It will be difficult for Brazil to return to normal soon. Pushing ahead on impeachment procedures without a sound legal ground for impeachment would imply a coup. If the impeachment succeeds, Brazil may enter further into crisis. Political corruption is a universal problem in Brazil. If impeachment becomes a new political norm, the governments ensuing may be frequently replaced. 

From the current corruption survey, many Brazilians still believe Rousseff is the most innocent among Brazilian politicians.  Accordingly, impeaching her would set the wrong tone for a democratically-elected president.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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