By 367 votes, the floor of the Chamber of Deputies approved the admissibility of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment request on Sunday (Apr. 17) evening. Deputies were namely called to vote according to the order imposed by internal rules of the Chamber of Deputies, from the North to the South Region. Deputy Abel Galinha (member of the opposition party Democratas) was the first to record his vote, and he said “yes” to impeachment.
The impeachment request, signed by the lawyers Miguel Reale Jr., Janaína Paschoal and Hélio Bicudo, was accepted by Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha in December 2015 and was based on the argument that Rousseff committed crime of responsibility, referring to delays in government transfers to state banks to fund the payment of welfare benefits, which is known as accounting tricks. The authors of the request also mentioned spending decrees signed without congressional authorization as a reason for ousting the president.
With this outcome, the future of the presidential mandate is now in the hands of 81 senators. On Monday (Apr. 18), the process will be sent to Senate and it will be read on the Senate’s floor on the following day (Apr. 19). Also on Tuesday, party leaders should indicate 42 lawmakers to form the special committee examining the case in the Senate, with 21 members and 21 substitutes. The committee has 48 hours to elect the chairperson and the special investigator to deliver the report. Because of the April 21 holiday, on Thursday, this should only happen on Monday (Apr. 25).
All parties represented in the Senate will join the committee in proportion to their ranks, that is, biggest parties will have more members in the committee. The committee will have then ten days to prepare the report on accepting or rejecting the impeachment proceedings. It is not clear yet whether days will be counted based on calendar days or on working days. The recommendation will be voted at the committee and regardless of the outcome, the proceedings will also be discussed and voted on the Senate’s floor. In both cases, the vote will be by simple majority.
If approved the Senate approves the admissibility of the impeachment request, which would probably be decided on May 10 or 11, President Dilma Rousseff will be notified and will temporarily step down the office for a maximum period of 180 days meanwhile senators would conclude the process. For this period, Vice-President Michel Temer would take office. Even if ousted, Rousseff will enjoy her rights to wage, her residence at the Alvorada Palace, and her personal security. During this period, she would only be prevented from performing her functions as head of state.
At this stage, the proceedings will return to the special committee for the stage of investigation. At this moment, the president will have 20 days to put up her defense. The committee shall examine all the arguments presented for ousting and for defending Dilma Rousseff. Documents and evidences shall also be attached to the process, but for this there is no deadline set by law.
Based on the documents, a new recommendation reaching a conclusion will be voted at the special committee and on the Senate’s floor, also by simple majority. If this other recommendation supporting the president’s impeachment is approved, the final vote on the case will be scheduled. The session at the Senate will be chaired by the Supreme Court (STF) Chief Justice. For this last vote, taken only at the Senate’s floor, two-thirds of the votes are necessary to approve the president’s impeachment. This means that 54 senators, out of the 81 senators, need to vote for ousing the president.
Rousseff’s impeachment arrives at the Senate amid several questions about the deadlines set by laws and by internal rules.
Until Tuesday (Apr. 19), Senate President Renan Calheiros (member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party—PMDB) will bring together the parties leaders and consult Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski about the proceedings at the Senate. Lewandowiski’s opinion is considered essential so that the rite is not challenged in court by parties. The expectation is that, after this consultation, the schedule for the proceedings may be subject to changes.
Even the moment when the Supreme Court Chief Justice will participate in the process is a reason for doubts.
Another question concerns the committee’s composition that will previously examine the admissibility of the impeachment request. The deadline set for producing and voting a report at the committee is also being questioned. Unlike at the Chamber of Deputies, which had 10 floor sessions as a deadline, the law establishes ten days at the Senate. However, it is not clear yet whether days will be counted based on calendar days or on working days.
Source: Agencia Brasil / RedGlobe