Brazil’s political turmoil continues two days after the lower chamber of the national legislature voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. A startling poll shows that the overwhelming public support for her impeachment is not antagonism limited to Rousseff, however, but to all leftists in power, as another poll shows strong support for impeaching her vice president, as well.
The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper surveyed protesters in the country’s largest city, where an estimated 1.4 million people protested in favor of impeachment in March. They found antipathy towards the leaders in power extended far beyond Rousseff. On Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, where the largest protest congregations have occurred, 54 percent of respondents say they support the impeachment of Vice President Michel Temer, who would become president if the Senate follows the House of Representatives’ lead in voting for Rousseff’s impeachment. Sixty-eight percent of these respondents said they believed a Temer presidency would be “fair” or “poor/very poor.”
In downtown Sao Paulo, 79 percent of protesters surveyed said they want to remove Temer as well as Rousseff, and 88 percent described the Brazilian government as “bad” or “terrible.”
Brazilian protesters in Sao Paulo do not even support the politicians making Rousseff’s impeachment possible. Ninety-four percent of respondents support the removal from power of the House President Eduardo Cunha, who organized the vote against Rousseff.
National polls show that support for Rousseff’s ouster, at least, is widespread, with Reuters reporting 60 percent of Brazilians want her out.
On Sunday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Rousseff by an overwhelming margin, the halfway point in the process to oust her. The Senate must now appoint an impeachment committee and, should the committee vote in favor, the full Senate will vote on whether to impeach her. If the Senate approves impeachment, Rousseff will be forced to step down for 180 days while the impeachment trial transpires, with Temer as acting president.
Rousseff is accused of using executive orders to manipulate public funds and hide the true dire state of the Brazilian economy, swindling international investors into thinking Brazil was a safer investment bet than it actually was. She has responded to the accusation with fury, comparing the impeachment process to Nazi Germany and delivering a fiery speech Monday in which she asserted she “felt wronged” because, she said, “There are no bribery accusations against me, no accusations that I accepted illicit payouts.”
“I have the energy, strength and courage to confront this injustice,” she asserted.
Some attorneys are arguing that Temer should receive similar blame to Rousseff, as he was complicit in the executive orders that have led to her impeachment. “Rousseff and Michel Temer signed the decrees, at odds with the Annual Budget Law. This is the crime,” Mariel Márley Marra, an attorney petitioning the House to impeach Temer, argued in early April. “There is a common body of evidence. This is an obvious rationale [for simultaneous impeachment] for any lawyer who works in the criminal realm like me,” he argued to BBC.
The chances of the House impeaching Temer are slim, as Cunha, the president of the House, is a member of the political party Temer leads: the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). The PMDB is a minority leftist party previously aligned with Rousseff’s socialist Workers’ Party, whose leadership voted to split from the Workers’ Party shortly before the impeachment vote, leaving legislators free to vote in favor of impeachment.
Folha reports Tuesday morning that Temer is preparing to assume the presidency, meeting with advisers to discuss organizing a finance team to rehabilitate the collapsing Brazilian economy. He is also seeking advisers’ opinions on how to combat the Rousseff narrative of “victimization,” as the newspaper put it, that alleges she is the victim of power-hungry betrayal on the part of Temer and his party. “[Temer’s] challenge begins with the need to restore the country’s credibility, restoring the ability to grow the economy so that we can create jobs and reassure Brazilian society,” Temer adviser and former Governor of Rio de Janeiro Moreira Franco told the newspaper, confirming that Temer is already planning his executive economic team.