August 31st, 2016

The leftist president of Brazil is ousted by the Brazilian Senate

Here’s a case of impeachment/conviction:

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…

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…

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 “this populist, Bolivarian and corrupt group,” Mr. Caiado said, “society will be able to breathe easily, even knowing the economic difficulties, the level of unemployment.”

I doubt it.

I think it’s probably a good thing that the leftist president was ousted, and it’s interesting to see that the Brazilian Senate was able to rouse itself to the task. On the other hand (and I have no way of knowing, because not only do I not have my finger on the pulse of Brazil but I don’t have my finger anywhere in the vicinity), my guess is that corruption is very widespread in the country and neither party is the least bit immune.

In fact, here’s a discussion about her successor:

But others say Mr. Temer’s ascension won’t placate a restless public fed up with the political status quo and disgusted by widespread corruption across all major parties. His Brazilian Democratic Movement Party is among those tainted by the graft scandal at Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, as the state oil company is known. Mr. Temer was loudly booed at the opening ceremonies of the recent Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“The ‘throw the bums out’ feeling about politics—that will not be satiated by Dilma’s removal,” said Matthew Taylor, a professor at American University in Washington and an authority on Brazilian politics. “The kind of smoky-room feeling about the way impeachment has proceeded gives a very sort of unsavory taste to the whole impeachment process.”

Indeed, many Brazilians believe Ms. Rousseff’s fall had less to do with official impeachment charges than her mishandling of South America’s largest economy, which moved from 7.6% GDP growth in 2010, when she was first elected, to the worst downturn since the Great Depression during her second term.

Well, we already know that impeachment is less about crimes and more of a political process. And doesn’t that “throw the bums out” mentality sound familiar? It’s an understandable impulse, but it often leads to worse things than what it replaces.

In fact, Rousseff herself was (and this may sound familiar as well) someone who had never held political office before being elected president in 2010. However—unlike some non-politicians we know who are running for the top job as an entrance-level position—Rousseff was an old party hand and loyalist.

Meanwhile, her successor must try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again:

“Impeachment does not change this scenario much,” said João Augusto de Castro Neves, a Eurasia Group analyst. “It eliminates the risk of Dilma returning, but [Temer] must deal with the real problems of governance.”

In the end, all presidents have to do that as the real world comes crashing in.

14 Responses to “The leftist president of Brazil is ousted by the Brazilian Senate”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    America is so exceptional that Brazilians can do it but the US cannot.

    I’m surprised Honduras and those other democracies, even pay attention to and enforce their constitutions, if any they have had. Perhaps in emulating the uS, they are closer to the Founding Father’s doctrine, even though their living standards are imperfect due to human flaws.

  2. Frog Says:

    Prof. Matthew Taylor’s remarks strike me as unsupported by any evidence. Smoky-room, unsavory taste are merely judgmental. I had read the WSJ story from which this all came, and there was nothing therein about smoke or unsavory. The Senate vote to impeach was 61 to 20 (75%).
    Of course, I suspect the professor to be a sanctimonious leftist, just on the odds, since the huge majority of his peers are.

  3. neo-neocon Says:


    I believe he was referring to the fact that they might have been merely protecting their own butts, and that they were implicated in the corruption as well.

    That’s my impression, anyway.

  4. Frog Says:

    Not sure I get how impeachment of Dilma can save the butts of Brazilian Senators. Non-impeachment, yes; I get that. See the US Senate.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    I believe he was referring to the fact that they might have been merely protecting their own butts, and that they were implicated in the corruption as well.

    They should have done it the American Way.

    That way, they don’t have to worry about protecting themselves, they can just pretend none of it happened, as Hussein and Clinton and other Democrats do with their evil in the USA.

  6. Sam L. Says:

    Brasil has been the coming country for years, and, I suspect, will continue to be.
    Rather like Socialism, which will be perfect when the right people get to run it.

  7. oldflyer Says:

    Spent a bit of time in Brazil many years back. Clearly, personal impressions have a narrow focus and can be grossly misleading. Still, it seemed there was an extraordinary bureaucratic tangle associated with routine activities; a sense of general corruption; and endemic cynicism.

    At the time, the off-shore oil industry was gearing up, and that undoubtedly helped push the economy upward. It may have also provided a false sense of well-being; an opportunity to paper over systemic problems.

    I have mentioned in other discussions related to the Olympics, that crime was rampant in the major cities, and many people that I came in contact with went armed for self-protection, and the protection of their children. Kidnapping was a growth industry. Moderately well-to-do people lived in walled, guarded compounds. Shanty enclaves of very poor families were seen under many overpasses; and individuals lived on the streets or in the parks. I think that this was from simple neglect rather than some Liberal decision to main-stream dysfunctional people who would have previously been institutionalized.

    The point is that the problems are much deeper and much more wide-spread than could be created by one administration.

    I have no idea whether the impeachment was justified; nor whether the process was clean.

  8. neo-neocon Says:


    Not exactly “save” them. But tit for tat payback time. This is the portion of the article to which I’m referring:

    Among them is Ms. Rousseff’s most implacable foe, former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who has been charged with pocketing millions in bribes linked to Petrobras contracts. Mr. Cunha was the legislative gatekeeper who allowed impeachment proceedings against Ms. Rousseff to move forward in December, the same day her Workers’ Party allies declined to support him in a House ethics inquiry. Mr. Cunha has denied wrongdoing.

    Testifying before the Senate on Monday in her own defense, Ms. Rousseff said the impeachment process was sheer political payback. She said Mr. Cunha and her other adversaries were angry that she didn’t use her influence to stop the blockbuster investigation that has blown up Brazilian politics.

    Although Ms. Rousseff headed Petrobras’s board of directors when much of the illegal activity occurred, the probe has produced no evidence that she personally benefited from the scheme, in contrast to many lawmakers who supported her ouster.

  9. Matt_SE Says:

    The ass-covering of the Brazilian Senate reminds me of the Dodd Frank bill. A reform bill that made the problem worse, passed by two of the guys who were responsible for the previous mess.

  10. Frog Says:

    Neo: That is all he said-she said. It is all hot air, pure blather. Accusations sans facts by both Cunha and Rousseff.
    Symbolizes why Brazil cannot make it to developed world rank, Olympics with green water notwithstanding.

  11. J.J. Says:

    I haven’t been to Brazil, but have spent time in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and the Philippines – all countries that were colonized by Spain. The Spaniards left behind a system of government in which office holders were expected to enrich themselves through graft. The attitude seems to be, “Why have a position of power if you can’t use it for some graft?” In the Philippines I used to ask my Filipino friends why they put up with it. The answer was always, “Because that’s the way we have always done things.” All these countries are rife with graft, even when the Communists take over. Politics there is all about gaining power so you can use power to enrich yourself. Apparently Ms. Rousseff went a bit too far or some people in Brazil are finally getting tired of graft as a way of life. At least her impeachment may force others to be more circumspect in the future. But I doubt that it will end the problem.

    Our system has graft as well. The Clinton capers are just the most flagrant and shocking of examples. Most of our graft has been conducted in the shadows and is deeply frowned upon. We will prosecute grafters and our moral sentiments in general are very much against it. It’s our inheritance from the Anglosphere – the belief in honest government. That belief is being weakened in more recent times by those who have enriched themselves while in public service. Our Congress has quite a number of them. One former President called Bubba and the one who is leaving office in January are using their power from elective office to enrich themselves. We’re becoming more like a Banana Republic everyday.

  12. Cornhead Says:

    One of the main reasons to vote for Trump is that the Senate would never convict and remove Hillary from office. Total and complete unchecked power.

    I’m surprised more people don’t appreciate that fact.

  13. neo-neocon Says:


    Nor would they do that with Trump.

    I’m surprised more people don’t appreciate THAT. I have written about it several times. Please see this, for example.

    Plus, “vote for him, he’ll be easier to impeach” doesn’t really have all that much ooomph as a slogan.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    I’m surprised people who have no power or responsibility in DC are selling us a fake con contract here. It’s not as if they can back up their promises in the future, because whatever happens, they are powerless to decide one way or another. The fact that they are powerless, is why Trum and the Gop E and the Left is advancing.

    The fact that they are powerless, doesn’t mean they have the power to stop Trum, even after Trum gets to DC. If they had power, they wouldn’t need Trum, since they would wipe out DC themselves using said power. If the GOPe had the will to stop DC via convictions, witch hunts, Democrat tactics, and impeachments, they would already have done so. But they do not, because they lack the will, even if they have the power.

    The people outside, may have hate, anger, and thus willpower in their hearts, but they don’t have the power. Amazing joke, really.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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