by Michael Lerner
Legislative efforts to impeach Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff are proceeding, but the process is long and complex, with no certain end result. A special committee of the lower house of Brazil’s Congress released its report on Wednesday, advocating Rousseff be impeached.
She is accused of violating the nation’s financial responsibility laws by using loans from state banks to fill a massive budget deficit. “There is serious evidence of illegal conduct of the president. This shows serious enough [acts] to authorize the installation of an impeachment process,” wrote federal Deputy Jovair Arantes in the report.
Rousseff denies the allegations, denounces impeachment advocates as fascist coup-plotters, and insists she will not resign.
But while this makes for gripping headlines, it’s just another preliminary step whose impact should not be overstated. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The report is now to be considered by the 65-member special committee, which will likely vote on it Monday. Their recommendation then goes to the Chamber of Deputies for a final vote, which is tentatively expected for April 17. If two-thirds of the 513-member lower house votes for impeachment, the case will be sent to the Senate for a trial.
Meaning that none of this is the end; even if it reaches a trial, Rousseff could still prevail.
If she has broken the law, she deserves to be impeached. However, what’s troubling is that most Brazilians seem to want her gone for her mishandling of the economy. Brazil is in an awful recession, and an ever-deepening corruption scandal involving her Workers’ Party doesn’t help. The country and economy might very well be better off with new political leadership. But finding any flimsy pretense to impeach an elected president who has become unpopular sets a very dangerous, undemocratic precedent.
However worthy of criticism, incompetence is not a crime.