ANU experts look at the Brazilian presidential impeachment trial

13 May 2016

This likely represents the end of the political line for President Dilma Rousseff.

Less than halfway through her term, Brazil's first female President, Dilma Rousseff, has been stripped of her presidential duties for up to six months after the Senate voted to begin an impeachment trial.

Her Vice-President Michel Temer now takes over as interim President.

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DR SEAN W BURGES, Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies

"This likely represents the end of the political line for President Dilma Rousseff. Although she has committed no real crime and is not implicated in any act of corruption, she nevertheless appears certain to be impeached and removed from office in a highly politicised trial conducted by a legislature where over half of the members are themselves facing indictment and trial for crimes such a corruption, bribery and embezzlement.

"The pressure is on Temer. Any claim he might have for popular legitimacy as president will rest almost entirely on his ability to restart the economy and ensure that Brazil's transition from developing to middle income country continues. He has less than six months - the time frame for President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment trial - to show real results. If he fails and the economy gets worse he may find himself facing impeachment, too."

 

DR TRACY FENWICK, Lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations

"This impeachment process has been about judging President Dilma Rousseff, not her alleged fiscal crimes. It has been a referendum on her competence to govern Brazil and to manage its economy. The senators yesterday overwhelmingly made their decision. Regardless of what comes forth in the next 180 days, there is little likelihood of any reversal. President Rousseff has lost her credibility, and the conditions required to govern Brazil.

"The political crisis in Brazil is not over. Tensions will remain across legislative branches and in society. The economic crisis, however, can be resolved. President Michel Temer knows that this is the only thing that matters right now to establish his governing credibility.

"Let's hope all the smaller political parties that supported Temer's ascension to the presidency and now make up his governing coalition, don't decide its pay-back time. If they do, we're in for some more surprises."

 

DR FABRICIO CHAGAS BASTOS, Lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations

"The political roots of Dilma Rousseff impeachment can be traced to the after re-election in 2013-14. Dilma alienated the same politicians of the partisan coalition that sustained her first government, partly because of her terrible political skills and partly because of her arrogance. It was a fatal error. When the economic performance turned out not to be sufficient to sustain the government spending, already without the extra gains from commodity exports, Dilma adopted confusing and ineffective measures that ended up causing uncertainty and still more depressing the economy. When she tried to urge the Congress to adopt measures that would help to grow the economy, she got no support.

Temer in his first day sent a bad signal to the country: all his ministers are men and white, nearly all of them are congressmen (not specialists) and from the Southeast of the country (the richest part of Brazil). Brazilian inequalities of gender, race and income are well known, though for a president who projected a 'national salvation government', showing to the world his first-hand allies are the old and traditional political oligarchies rather than appointing specialists and balancing his ministries between the diversity, it is a terrible first step.

"Reform in tax and political system are imperative, as well as the recognition that inequalities must be the target to this new government. The win win model under the Worker's Party, in which big companies won a lot and the poor became less poor, is over."