How Brazil’s electoral system led the country into political crisis

Ryan Lloyd and Carlos Oliveira – The Washington Post, 05/25/2016

There’s a new twist in the already twisted saga of the Brazilian legislature’s attempt to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, who is currently suspended. On May 23, Brazil’s largest newspaper, the Folha de Sao Paulo,published a story about a leaked conversation between Planning Minister Romero Jucá — a key instigator of Rousseff’s suspension and an important political insider for the past 30 years — and Sérgio Machado, the former head of Transpetro (the transportation arm of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company).

In the audio clip, Jucá — who has since taken leave from his post in Michel Temer’s interim government, which stepped in for Rousseff — says clearly that impeachment was a way for a coalition of politicians to avoid being prosecuted for corruption. Rousseff was unwilling to protect these politicians, Jucá claimed. Removing her from office and forming a “national pact” to “stop the bleeding” would be the best way for them all to protect themselves.

Some media outlets suggest that Machado recorded conversations with other key players in Brazilian politics. If so, more leaks could put Temer in a still worse position. Temer worked actively behind the scenes to dethrone his predecessor, but doesn’t have popular support himself.

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Brazil’s Senate Begins Debate on Ousting Dilma Rousseff After Months of Turmoil

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/11/2016

BRASÍLIA — After months of tirades, secret maneuvering and legal appeals,Brazil’s Senate began debating on Wednesday whether to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, suspend her from office and put her on trial.

The debate, followed by a vote as early as Wednesday evening, is a watershed in the power struggle consuming Brazil, a country that experienced a rare stretch of stability over the last two decades as it strengthened its economy and achieved greater prominence on the world stage.

Now, those gains are unraveling. Brazil is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, huge corruption cases across the political spectrum and a bitter feud among its scandal-plagued leaders — just months before the world heads to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympics.

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Brazil Impeachment Countdown Begins as Senate Elects Committee

Arnaldo Galvao – Bloomberg, 04/25/2016

Brazil’s Senate took its first major step forward in the impeachment process on Monday by electing members of a committee that will recommend whether to oust President Dilma Rousseff.

Senators approved in a vote the 21 members of the committee, who are scheduled to pick their president and rapporteur during their first meeting on Tuesday. The committee is made up of multiple parties and has as many as 10 days to hear Rousseff’s defense and make a recommendation to their peers whether to try the president.

Monday’s meeting reinforced a timetable that could see Rousseff’s ouster as early as May 12, as the full chamber can vote two days after the committee finishes its work. The president would have to step down temporarily if the opposition garners the simple majority it needs to start the Senate trial, which surveys conducted by local media show it currently has. Without the power of the presidency at her disposal, Rousseff will have a difficult time winning over enough lawmakers to prevail in the trial, said political analyst Rafael Cortez.

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Brazil’s Shrewd Senate Boss Unlikely to Rescue Rousseff

Brad Haynes, Alonso Soto – Reuters, 04/18/2016

Dilma Rousseff is not the first Brazilian president forced to contemplate the loyalty of Renan Calheiros on the eve of her possible impeachment.
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Nearly 25 years ago, Calheiros, the current president of the Senate who will decide the pace of debate over Rousseff’s impeachment, weighed the fate of a fellow politician from his tiny northeastern state of Alagoas: Fernando Collor de Mello.

Calheiros was a key advisor in Collor’s successful presidential campaign in 1989. Just three years later, his explosive revelations of government corruption to journalists and congressional investigators helped topple Collor in a corruption scandal.

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Brazil Real advances as House plans preliminary impeachment vote

Paula Sambo – Bloomberg, 04/11/2016

Brazil’s real advanced on growing speculation the ouster of President Dilma Rousseff is drawing closer as Congress prepared for key votes on the process this week.

Brazil’s currency, the most volatile in emerging markets as traders try to gauge the outlook for a complicated impeachment effort, gained 0.5 percent to 3.5742 per dollar at 9:21 a.m. in Sao Paulo. The real was the world’s best performing currency in the first quarter on wagers that bringing in a new government will help pull Brazil out of its worst recession in a century and shore up a record fiscal deficit.

Newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo reported more lawmakers are in favor of removing Rousseff as a special committee in the lower house was scheduled to vote Monday on whether to move forward with the impeachment request. The full house could vote as early as April 17, either squelching impeachment or setting the stage for Rousseff’s ouster in the Senate. The real tumbled last year as Brazil lost its coveted investment-grade status and a sweeping corruption scandal hit businesses and the government.

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Impeachment Map // Mapa do Impeachment

Mapa do Impeachment – Vem da Rua

The Impeachment Map is a tool created by the volunteers of the “Vem Pra Rua” movement, in order to mobilize civil society in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, clarifying the positions of the representatives in Brasilia concerning the process.

The Impeachment of President Dilma is a judicial and political process and many support its approval by the National Congress. Because of popular support for the impeachment, the “Vem Pra Rua” movement supports those representatives who have already declared their position in favor of impeachment, urges those indecisive representatives to make a decision in favor of impeachment and mainly, highlights for voters those representative against impeachment.

The Impeachment map is the result of intensive research that cross-references sources including the Congress, Senate, Electoral Court, IBGE, Registro.br, as well as Google searches and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

The representatives and their opinions on  impeachment are broken down into three categories: those who are undecided, those who have already announced their support for impeachment and those who have been vocally against impeachment. The website allows visitors to contact those representatives who are against or undecided by providing contact information, website links and relevant information about the representative. The map also breaks down the representatives in a various ways, whether by state or by legislative body.

Check out the Map (In Portuguese)…

Brazil’s senate clears second austerity bill

Paulo Trevisani & Djania Savoldi – The Wall Street Journal, 5/27/2015

The Brazilian Senate on Wednesday approved a controversial bill meant to save taxpayer money by reducing pension payments to widows.

The measure is part of a broader effort to reduce the government’s high debt levels, which are threatening the country’s investment-grade rating.

The vote is a victory for President Dilma Rousseff and comes less than a day after Congress cleared another bill that reduces unemployment benefits. Together, the bills will save some 15 billion Brazilian reais ($4.8 billion) in taxpayer money, government officials say.

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Brazil’s senate clears second austerity bill

Paulo Trevisani, Djania Savoldi – The Wall Street Journal, 05/27/2015

The Brazilian Senate on Wednesday approved a controversial bill meant to save taxpayer money by reducing pension payments to widows.

The measure is part of a broader effort to reduce the government’s high debt levels, which are threatening the country’s investment-grade rating.

The vote is a victory for President Dilma Rousseff and comes less than a day after Congress cleared another bill that reduces unemployment benefits. Together, the bills will save some 15 billion Brazilian reais ($4.8 billion) in taxpayer money, government officials say.

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Brazil’s Senate Tells Maduro to Defend Human Rights

PanAm Post, 5/6/2015

The Brazilian Senate passed a vote of no-confidence on Tuesday against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro over the “arbitrary detention” of members of the opposition.

The text, written by Senator Roberto Jucá of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), “rejects” the arrests of the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma — imprisoned since February— and opposition leader Leopoldo López, who has been in jail for 14 months, as well as the detention of other dissidents.

The body approved the text on the eve of a visit by López’s and Ledezma’s wives, Mitzy Capriles and Lilian Tintori respectively, to the Brazilian Congress to present allegations of human-rights violations in Venezuela.

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Fiscal Austerity Passes First Test in Brazil’s Congress

Paulo Trevisani and Djania Savoldi – The Wall Street Journal, 5/6/2015

BRASÍLIA—Brazil’s lower house of Congress on Wednesday approved the first of two controversial austerity measures aimed at cutting government spending on worker benefits.

While the measure must still be approved by the Senate, Wednesday’s result was seen as a significant victory for embattled President Dilma Rousseff, who has been advocating fiscal reforms to avoid a potential downgrade of Brazil’s sovereign debt.

The Chamber of Deputies voted 252-to-227 to, among other changes, make it tougher for workers to qualify for unemployment benefits, doubling the minimum time worked to 12 months. The vote comes after weeks of intense negotiations, as lawmakers from Ms. Rousseff’s own labor-backed governing Workers’ Party, or PT, had threatened to kill the bill on fears the measure would alienate their core constituents.

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