Top 10 facts to cover Brazil’s political crisis
Many in Brazil have insisted on a narrative of “inevitable impeachment” of President Dilma Rousseff. Even respected consultancy firms have done the same — Eurasia expects her to be booted out by May. But things are more complicated than it seems. So here are some facts that cast more doubts than certainties over the current mess. I don’t make any predictions but this: this is not going to be simple.
1 – Brazil’s Supreme Court might accelerate, stall or destroy impeachment proceedings in Congress. All predictions by opposition members don’t count on Brazil’s top court, which has already stalled the proceedings last year. One example: the impeachment commission in Congress almost decided to include new accusations against Rousseff in the proceedings approved last year. The move is controversial. The original document only talked about her allegedly breaking fiscal rules. That alone could have made the Supreme Court act and send everything back to scratch. The same could happen in every step.
2 – The Petrobras probe will not stop. It will surely bring new allegations against coalition members, but newspapers have reported that opposition members and junior partner PMDB are likely to be the big targets of the next weeks. If that is true, the whole game gets even more confusing.
3 – No one knows whether Lula will be minister or not. Despite the initial backlash, his being in government could stop the outflow from Rousseff’s coalition. Or accelerate it if new evidence against him emerges. If he becomes minister, he could also bring more ire against the Worker’s Party and speed up the governments’s doom. If he doesn’t, he could lead from the streets and become a competitive candidate in the next elections. If he is arrested, there could be more division than ever.
4 – Junior partner PMDB is not unified around anything. And it shouldn’t be much different in the current crisis. Even when PMDB reaches unified decisions, it often takes very little for a chunk of the party to start feeling differently. PMDB has no leader.
5 – Vice President Michel Temer has even less support. A Datafolha poll said 68% of Brazilians want Rousseff out. But only 11% believe Temer is the leader to reconcile. Important to bear in mind that Temer was the least voted Congressman in Sao Paulo in the 2006 elections. He doesn’t have any votes. That could be the unification: all protesters joining against him if the economy crisis persists. And there is no sign that the economy crisis will end soon…
6 – Streets are now boiling for both sides. Pro-impeachment protests are bigger than ever. But now anti-impeachment protests, although smaller, are also bigger than ever. That division could reflect in Congress. The opposition needs an overwhelming majority, but the administration has its back against the wall. It seems one of the boiling sides will be upset in the end. Who can handle that?
7 – Mayoral elections in October. Some want to speed up impeachment because they want government allies that work for them in the next mayoral elections. If the path looks too difficult, will they insist? After July’s recess all Congressmen leave Brasilia to work for their candidates in their base. All want money to invest to lure voters.
8 – Respectable voices are coming out for both sides now. Brazil’s bar association has endorsed Rousseff’s impeachment (not necessarily the current process). Artists and intellectuals seem to be mostly rejecting impeachment. Everything is less obvious. It is not the government against the opposition; it is pro-impeachment against anti-impeachment. No matter what politicians say, they are rejected by many in both protests.
9 – Brazil’s Senate has not made a decisive move. If impeachment proceedings are approved in the Lower House, the Senate has to move it forward. The current state of mind of the senators has not been properly measured.
10 – Brazil’s media is not the best reference for what will happen. Most of Brazil’s mainstream media said impeachment would be finished by August. Then September. Then October. Then November. Then December. Then March. Now they are divided: some say April, others say May. All I say is buckle up because this might be long.