The process needed to impeach Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff passed another stage when the Chamber of Deputies, Brazil’s lower house of Congress, voted in favor of impeachment.
The case will now go to the Senate, which will vote on whether a trial will be held or not. A two thirds majority was needed in the lower house but in the Senate a simple majority will be sufficient for the impeachment to progress. The final vote in the lower house was 367 for impeachment, 137 against and 7 abstaining.
If the case does ultimately go to trial, Rousseff will step down at least temporarily as president and Vice President Michel Temer will take over.
“The fight is going to continue now in the streets and in the federal Senate,” said Jose Guimaraes, the leader of Rouseff’s Workers’ Party in the lower house. “We lost because the coup-mongers were stronger.”
Brazil’s first female president is accused of Rousseff stands accused of deliberately delaying payments to state lenders in order to mask Brazil’s growing budget deficit. Opponents argue she used this tactic to increase her chances for re election in 2014. Rousseff’s position is not helped by widespread unpopularity amidst an economic recession and serious issues with the nation’s infrastructure. A poll shows that 60 percent of Brazilians support her impeachment. However, there are those on the other side who adamantly believe impeaching Rousseff would do more harm than good.
“This is a coup, a traumatic injury to Brazil’s presidential system,” said Pedro Arruda, a political analyst at the Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo. “This is just pretext to take down a president who was elected by 54 million people. She doesn’t have foreign bank accounts, and she hasn’t been accused of corruption, unlike those who are trying to impeach her.”