Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Brazil's lower house of Congress votes to impeach President Dilma Rousseff

Published:Monday | April 18, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Anti-government demonstrators celebrate after the lower house of Congress voted to impeach Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil yesterday.
Demonstrators wearing costumes of Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, and current President Dilma Rousseff march inside mock jail cells, during a protest demanding Rousseff's impeachment in Sao Paulo, Brazil yesterday.

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP):
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today appeared on the verge of losing office after a congressional vote to impeach her and with seemingly slipping support in the Senate, which would vote on whether to remove the leftist leader amid a national political and economic crisis.

The 367-137 lower house vote in favour of impeachment yesterday sends the issue to the Senate. If a majority there votes to put Rousseff on trial, she'd be suspended while Vice-President Michel Temer temporarily takes over. The exact date of the Senate vote is not known, but it's widely expected by the middle of next month.

Local news media report that 45 of the 81 senators have said they will vote to hold the impeachment trial.

PHOTO: Anti-government demonstrators cheer as they watch on a large screen, as lawmakers vote on whether or not to impeach President Dilma Rousseff in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday.

The vote worsens the confusion over the country's political landscape as Brazil, already reeling from a sharp economic recession and a massive corruption scandal, prepares to host the Olympic Games in August.

The impeachment vote has deeply divided Brazilians, tens of thousands of whom demonstrated in front of Congress during the vote.

Many hold Rousseff responsible for everything from the devastating recession to chronic high taxes and poor public services. At the same time, a broad swath of the population attributes its rise from poverty to her Workers Party and decried the vote as anti-democratic.

"I'm happy because I think Dilma had to go, but I'm also both sad that it came to this and also really worried that the next president could be even worse," said Patricia Santos, a 52-year-old small business owner who was the demonstrators outside Congress. "I quiver to think what awaits us next."

Neither Rousseff nor Temer have yet reacted publicly to the vote, but local news media suggested the vice-president was already putting together his team and sketching out potential policies.