Opposition Lawyers File New Petition to Impeach Brazilian PresidentOctober 22, 2015 in Brazil
On Wednesday, opposition lawyers filed a new petition to Congress for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.
The authors of the filing are prominent lawyers Helio Bicudo, a founding member of the president’s ruling Worker’s Party, and Miguel Feale, a former justice minister, who are backed by the country’s main opposition party, the PSDB. The new petition reinforces an earlier one by the lawyers to include accusations that the doctoring of government accounts continued into Rousseff’s current team. It also accused the president of signing spending decrees of 820 million reais (US $210 million) with approval from Congress, which is an impeachable violation of the country’s budget laws.
If the request is taken up by the speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who himself is under growing pressure to resign due to corruption allegations, months-long impeachment proceedings would begin, which will effectively prolong a political crisis that has deepened the country’s economic slump.
The request is considered to be the most serious attempt so far to impeach the Brazilian president as it is based on a federal audit court ruling that her government manipulated its accounts in a bid to disguise the size of the deficit and to allow for more spending in the run-up to her narrow re-election last year.
The president’s government is scrambling to block impeachment proceedings in the lower house, where the president’s opponents would require two-thirds of the votes in order to approve an impeachment trial that would be held in the Senate. Furthermore, polls have shown that two in every three Brazilians want to see the president impeached. Her approval rate has fallen to single digits in recent polls, with many blaming her for not stopping a corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras and for mismanaging the country’s once-booming economy.
If Congress does impeach the president, then Vice President Michel Temer, who is the leader of the country’s largest party, the PMDB, would serve as president of the remainder of the term. However it currently remains unclear when, or even wether, the speaker will decide to take up the impeachment request, as Cunha is battling to remain in office following revelations of secret Swiss bank accounts in his name that link him to the massive bribery and political kickback scandal at Petrobras.