Dilma Rousseff Ousted in Historic Brazil Impeachment Vote
Leftist leader’s removal puts Michel Temer in power through 2018 as nation’s deep political and economic problems persist.
Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who defied a dictatorship but struggled as Brazil’s president amid a troubled economy and a fractious political climate, was removed from office Wednesday following an impeachment trial she condemned as a coup d’état. Far from ending Brazil’s monthslong political crisis, Ms. Rousseff’s ouster leaves the country’s new leaders beset with an economy in tatters and an angry, divided electorate. Brazil’s Senate voted 61-20 to convict Ms. Rousseff on charges that she used illegal bookkeeping maneuvers to hide a growing budget deficit, deemed an impeachable crime in a nation with a history of hyperinflation and fiscal mismanagement. Two-thirds of Brazil’s 81 senators, or 54 votes, were needed to remove Ms. Rousseff from power.
The outcome was widely expected, though only partly because of the legal evidence marshaled against her. Well before the trial’s final phase opened last week, Ms. Rousseff’s administration had been upended by a brutal recession and a massive corruption scandal at the state oil company that splintered her political base and devastated her popular support. Her departure marks a humiliating end for Brazil’s first female president, and closes 13 years of rule by her leftist Workers’ Party, or PT.
Interim President Michel Temer, who served as vice president and was among the many former allies to abandon Ms. Rousseff, will finish out her second term, which runs through the end of 2018.
Sen. Ronaldo Caiado of the right-wing Democrats party said Ms. Rousseff’s ouster was a repudiation the Workers’ Party and Ms. Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former metal worker who became president in 2003 and set about expanding social programs to aid Brazil’s poorest citizens. Without them, he said, “society will be able to breathe easily, even knowing the economic difficulties, the level of unemployment.”
“But with this decision today, I confess to you that I am relieved,” Ms. dos Santos said. “I do not know if she committed crimes or not, but the direction of the economy cannot continue.”
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