BRASILIA, Brazil, April 17 (UPI) — Brazil remained tense Sunday as its Chamber of Deputies began casting ballots to impeach unpopular President Dilma Rousseff.
The results of the vote aren’t expected until evening, but her opponents say they have secured the two-thirds majority needed to impeach her in Brazil’s 513-member Chamber of Deputies, the Washington Post reported.
Lawmakers were scheduled to begin voting at 1 p.m. Eastern time, casting ballots one by one in a special legislative session broadcast on live television.
If impeachment is approved, it requires only a simple majority to get through Brazil’s Senate, where the president’s chances of survival are even narrower. She would be suspended from her presidency and Vice President Michel Temer would be sworn in. Senators have 180 days to conduct impeachment hearings before a final vote determines Rousseff’s fate.
Rousseff could be suspended as early as May, about three months before the Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro. The Olympics was expected to showcase Brazil as a rising power on the global stage, CNN reported.
“Not only is the impeachment vote in the plenary of the lower house of Congress this Sunday looking increasingly likely, but it will most likely prevail by a wide margin, analyst Christopher Garman of Eurasia Group said earlier in the week.
This impeachment procedure has resulted in a political crisis amounting to a stunning reversal of fortune for Brazil where everything appeared to be going right just a few years earlier when the economy was humming along.
Now Brazil finds itself mired in its worst economic slump since the 1930s. Then, there is the Zika virus epidemic that continues to spread. With the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Rio just four months away, the country’s political leaders appear to be consumed with the political crisis and a sweeping corruption scandal.
While Rousseff isn’t accused of stealing, opponents say she should be impeached because her administration tried to cover up budget gaps with funds from government banks. Rouseff denies any wrongdoing.
The Brazillian halls of Congress have become a place of bruising political combat in recent days. Lawmakers have loudly shouted calls for her ouster, with phrases like “Dilma Out!” echoeing through the halls. Her supporters denounce the impeachment push as “a coup.”
Both sides have feverishly lobbied the few dozen lawmakers who have yet to say how they will vote Sunday,attempting to entice their votes with promises of high-level perks. But it’s just that sort of backroom deal making that has left so many Brazilians angry at their leaders.