This content is not available in your region

Dilma's last day? Brazil's Senate in session on impeachment trial for President Rousseff

Access to the comments Comments
By Sarah Taylor  with Reuters, The Economist
Dilma's last day? Brazil's Senate in session on impeachment trial for President Rousseff

The clock is ticking for Dilma Rousseff.

Brazil’s Senate is in session for a vote on whether or not to put the nation’s first female president on trial on charges of breaking budget laws.

Each senator who has registered to speak will be given 15 minutes to air their views. With more than 60 of the 81 senators taking up the offer, the session is expected to last around 15 hours.

If all goes to schedule, the day will be split into three segments: 9am to 12 noon (local time); 1pm to 6pm; and from 7pm until the end of the ballot.

If a simple majority of the senators present votes in favour of prosecution, Vice President Michel Temer will be named interim head of state for the length of the trial, which could take up to 180 days.

Senate President Renan Calheiros reminded those assembled of what they were voting on.

“There is only one question. Is there any evidence that a crime of responsibility has been committed by the President of the Republic, that would justify opening the impeachment process and consequently suspending her?”

Calheiros ignored two Senators’ requests to hold off the vote until Rousseff received a response to her Supreme Court appeal on the legality of the procedure.

Gleisi Hoffmann and Vanessa Grazziotin both asked for a delay.

The last-ditch appeal was later overturned. Justice Teori Zavascki ruled the government’s argument that impeachment was flawed was “legally implausible” and denied the injunction. Rousseff and her followers had argued the impeachment process was started out of revenge by former Speaker Eduardo Cunha.

Corruption allegations rife

Rousseff has called the impeachment process an attempted coup d‘état. Several leaders in Congress are also accused of corruption, including the Senate President.

A week prior to the May 11 vote, Vice President Temer was fined for violating campaign finance caps, meaning that while he could take the reins from Rousseff in the short-term, he may face a years-long ban on running for office.