Dilma Rousseff is hanging onto Brazil’s presidency by a thread. With the lower house having already voted to impeach, the upper house votes on whether to take up the case on May 11. Over the past two days, Dilma has received two very bad pieces of news: 1) an influential leftist senator who had been her ally in the past announced he supports moving ahead with impeachment and 2) the country’s top prosecutor asked to investigate whether Dilma obstructed the Petrobras corruption investigation.
Reuters has more:
Globo News, Brazil’s largest media conglomerate, along with the Estado de S.Paulo and Folha de S.Paulo newspapers reported the request made by the prosecutor at close to midnight on Tuesday.
The request will be analyzed by Supreme Court justice Teori Zavascki and is not public because it is based on recorded phone calls between Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, news site G1 reported.
Federal Judge Sergio Moro in March made public taped phone conversations between Rousseff and Lula that fed opposition claims that Rousseff had tried to name Lula as her chief of staff in order to shield him from prosecution.
The New York Times ran a story over the weekend reporting on Dilma’s personal political failures, and contrasting her with her charismatic and beloved predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula remains the face of the leftist Worker’s Party, and his clean and respected image was considered the saving grace for a party with the Petrobras mess all over its face. But as of March, Lula has been fingered in the scandal too, and with prosecutors now formally seeking to open an investigation into his behavior, Lula’s involvement is looking deeper and deeper.
Brazil’s corps of popular leftists are thinning. Vice President Michael Temer, who would take over if Dilma’s impeachment is successful, has avoided the corruption investigation so far. Nevertheless, he is highly unpopular for other reasons and is widely considered unlikely to do a good job governing in Dilma’s absence. Indeed, given volatile and weak commodities demand and the depth of Brazil’s corruption problems, ruling Brazil would be a challenge for the even the most competent executive. Temer, like Dilma, is likely to take extra heat because of macroeconomic challenges—whether he deserves it or not.
One likely consequence of all of this is that Brazil’s Worker’s Party will find itself out of power after the 2018 elections. The Worker’s Party has ruled Brazil since 2003; its demise would be by far the biggest casualty of the Latin lefty meltdown roiling the South American continent.