BRIC at Rock Bottom
Bye Bye, Dilma?

Are we approaching the demise of Brazil’s leftist government? President Dilma Rousseff has been staving off impeachment since massive corruption scandals led the National Congress to launch proceedings against her last fall. Since then, events have been moving fast.

Her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was nabbed in a corruption investigation last week, prompting Dilma to name him her chief of staff. (Cabinet members in Brazil cannot be prosecuted while they hold office.) Then, over the weekend, a judge blocked the appointment and the opposition held more protests calling for Dilma’s ouster.

On Sunday, one senior senator told the press that Dilma no longer has enough votes to prevent impeachment. Today, another senator, a longtime ally of Dilma’s, reportedly told investigators, as part of a plea bargain, that Lula and Dilma were both complicit in the bribery. Reuters:

In an interview with Brazil’s best-selling weekly news magazine, Senator Delcidio do Amaral said Rousseff’s successful presidential campaigns in 2010 and 2014 were financed with money from the graft scheme.

Amaral was the leader of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) in the Senate and a close Rousseff ally until he was arrested in November on charges of attempting to bribe a former executive of state-run oil company Petrobras in exchange for his silence in the investigation.

Finally, Brazil’s former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a centrist who served from 1995 until 2003, announced his support for impeachment over the weekend:

Cardoso, 84, had in the past voiced doubts on the wisdom of impeaching Rousseff, but said his opinion had changed “little by little.”

“With the government’s incapacity to function today… I think the path to follow now is impeachment,” he said.

He acknowledged the upheaval of removing the president midway through her second term would be “painful,” but added: “Watching the decline of the economy and society is just as painful as impeachment.”

Cardoso’s position is in line with that of most Brazilians, who have also come to favor impeachment. The latest poll showed that 68% of the country supports Dilma’s ouster.

In other news, a survey of economists and investors conducted by Brazil’s central bank predicted a 3.6% GDP contraction this year. That follows a 3.8% contraction last year. So while some investors have been hoping that Dilma’s impeachment would signal Brazil had finally hit rock bottom, others fear things may fall further yet…

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