The Political Future of Brazil’s ‘Frank Underwood’

Marina Koren – The Atlantic, 06/15/2016

Two months ago, Eduardo Cunha was leading the impeachment movement that would temporarily unseat Dilma Rousseff, banishing her to the presidential palace to prepare for a trial while her vice president took over her job. Now, Cunha is facing his own fight for his political future.

Brazil’s congressional ethics committee on Tuesday voted in favor of removing Cunha from his seat in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Brazil’s congress. The decision arose from corruption allegations against Cunha, a member of the now-ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) who has been described as Rousseff’s “political nemesis.” In May, just one week before Rousseff’s decisive impeachment vote, the country’s Supreme Court suspended Cunha from his position as speaker of the house, at the request of the attorney general, for using his high-ranking role to obstruct ethics committee hearings and intimidate lawmakers.

Cunha said he would appeal the decision to another congressional committee. The full chamber will now vote on the ethics committee’s recommendation, which would require an absolute majority of members—257 of 513—to pass. If legislators vote to kick Cunha out, the chamber would hold elections for a new speaker; Waldir Maranhao, a member of the Progressive Party and a Cunha ally, currently holds the position on an interim basis. And Cunha, dubbed the “Frank Underwood of Brazil” by Western media for spearheading House of Cards-esque impeachment proceedings, would be barred from running for political office for eight years.

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