Brazil’s crisis hits new lows as its outcome gets harder to predict

Paulo Sotero – Financial Times, 10/19/2015

The crisis that has paralysed Brazil’s politics this year and thrown its economy into what is set to be its longest recession since the 1930s has reached new lows. Revelations by Brazilian and Swiss authorities about Swiss bank accounts held by Eduardo Cunha, a Rio de Janeiro congressman and president of the Chamber of Deputies, have complicated opposition efforts to impeach the discredited president, Dilma Rousseff.

Last week, Brazil’s Supreme Court suspended its deliberation of procedures instigated by Cunha as the gatekeeper of Congress to begin Rousseff’s impeachment on the grounds of illegally tampering with the 2014 federal budget and in connection with a massive corruption scandal under federal investigation, involving national oil company Petrobras, construction companies and politicians of all major parties.

Cunha has repeatedly denied that he or his wife and daughter have bank accounts abroad, despite documents made public by Swiss authorities containing his personal address in Rio. Nevertheless, this notorious politician from the evangelical wing of the PMDB party is seen as doomed, as congressional peers mobilise against him under the growing pressure of public opinion. The most urgent political question facing Brazil, then, is not whether Rousseff will be impeached but who will be the next Speaker of the lower house of 513 deputies.

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