Rousseff’s lawyers will allege that the impeachment is the personal vendetta of former Congress speaker Eduardo Cunha, who last week was removed from his post pending a judicial investigation into corruption allegations against him. They will also tell the Federal Supreme Court that Cunha initiated the impeachment process on December 2, 2015 just hours after a group of deputies from Rousseff’s Workers’ Party voted in favor of the investigation into his Swiss bank accounts.
The appeal to the Supreme Court is just the latest twist in a long-running saga that saw the acting speaker of Congress, Wladir Maranhão, annul the impeachment on Monday morning, citing voting irregularities during the vote in the lower house on April 17, only to rescind his decision that same evening.
Do you know what the whole world is thinking about us? That this is a joke. There it is, for the whole world to see, our sad and impoverished war of factions
Joaquim Barbosa, former president of the Federal Supreme Court
Maranhão’s move only serves to highlight the fragility of Brazilian politics, as Joaquim Barbosa, a former president of the Federal Supreme Court, noted on Monday: “Do you know what the whole world is thinking about us? That this is a joke. And it is. There it is, for the whole world to see, our sad and impoverished war of factions: one humiliation after another.”
Maranhão is a secondary political figure in Brazil, and is assumed to have tried to halt the impeachment process on the orders of Flávio Dino, the Communist Party governor of his home state, also called Maranhão, and a Rousseff supporter.
But Maranhão soon ran into trouble within his own party, the center-right Progressive Party, which threatened to expel him, forcing him to make a humiliating U-turn.
Assuming the Senate approves the impeachment process, upper house speaker Renan Calheiros will inform Rousseff late on Wednesday evening of the outcome of the vote and that she must now stand down for the duration of the hearing. For the next 180 days senators will decide whether she manipulated the government’s accounts in 2014 to disguise a widening budget deficit as she campaigned for re-election.
If that happens, Temer, of the Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), a former ally of Rousseff and now her bitterest enemy, will take over. Media reports suggest that he has already put together a new cabinet that will impose an austerity program and try to attract investment into Brazil’s recession-hit economy, while at the same time making it impossible for Rousseff to return to office.
English version by Nick Lyne.