It was anything but shocking. In a fast vote, the Brazilian Senate decided to remove Dilma Rousseff from the presidency, closing a 13-year cycle of the Workers’ Party at the helm of the country. Out of the 81 senators, 61 voted to impeach her.
Now, Michel Temer is no longer the “interim” President; until 2018, he is the Brazilian head of state. The vote put an end to an impeachment process that started back in December, when the House of Representatives began to analyze the issue.
However, Rousseff’s impeachment does not mean that the political turmoil engulfing Brazil has reached its end.
Officially, Dilma Rousseff was evicted from the presidential palace for having doctored the federal budget and committing fiscal crimes – an offense punishable by impeachment. The reality of the situation is far less clear-cut, though.
While the process respected every step outlined by the Brazilian Constitution, there are many holes along the way. Her fiscal crimes have also been committed by virtually every governor, as well as previous presidents. This doesn’t excuse Rousseff, of course, but it does reveal how hypocritical the Brazilian political system is.
Ultimately, Rousseff was her own executioner. She was punished for her political ineptitude, stubbornness, and poor economic guidance. Let’s be honest for a second: if the economy weren’t in such bad shape, it is highly doubtful that she would find herself in this position.
Rousseff has never been appreciated by her fellow politicians. When Brazilians were hit by one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history, she lost voter support and the perfect storm for the downfall of her administration was created.
The vote was split into two questions. The first was whether of not Dilma Rousseff should be impeached. Then, senators voted if she should lose her political rights for eight years.
Just like the impeachment, it would take two-thirds of the Senate (54 votes) to prevent the former president from taking any kind of public office – even as a public school teacher. Only 42 were favorable of that penalty, and Dilma Rousseff kept her eligibility for public office.
Michel Temer, Brazil’s New President
By all accounts, Michel Temer became Brazil’s president on May 12, although until now the interim label has been attached to his name. And that has been used by his allies to justify the shortcomings of his administration.
While preaching for austerity measures and asking Brazilians for “sacrifice,” Temer approved a billionaire raise to judges and federal prosecutors while simultaneously cutting social programs.
For Temer’s allies, the fact that he was an interim got in the way of pushing for unpopular measures. Now, he is no longer interim. For better or for worse, the ship is his until 2018.
But if the last 100 days serve as any indication, it is unlikely that Michel Temer will push for much-needed reforms, like the pension system and our tax legislation, which is currently one of the most confusing in the world.
The new president has no political capital. Although he is a seasoned veteran, Temer is also an unknown politician and can’t rely on voter support. He is a creation of a rigged political system, and we can’t expect him to push for changes in the very system that allowed him to assume the country’s highest office.