It is weekly ritual for many Brazilians to gather around the television with family and friends on Sunday afternoons. Normally, though, the programming of choice is soccer rather than congresspeople voting for the impeachment of a president. Yet that is exactly what might happen on April 17, 2016, the day TV Globo, Brazil’s largest TV network, has promised to broadcast live what can be only described as the season finale of a political drama called “impeachment.”
The vote for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff scheduled for that day is not the last battle the opposition needs to win before she is ousted. The process still needs to be repeated in the Senate before any trial can begin—but the chances of a reversal at that point are practically nil. Once the Senate puts the matter to a vote and approves it, as it is expected to, Rousseff would have to step down while the political trial against her comes together. During that period, the current vice president, Michel Temer, will sit at the head of the table and try to rescue Brazil from one of its darkest moments in recent history until the next elections in 2018.
In some ways, this scenario would be the best possible outcome. But it isn’t the only way the story could play out. Another judicial process under review by the Supreme Electoral Courts could disqualify from office the entire presidential ticket that won the last presidential election, based on allegations of electoral corruption. This would mean both Rousseff and Temer would have to step down and new elections would be called in 90 days. The new elections would probably be held sometime next year, which would be more than enough time for the complete meltdown of the country, leaving little hope for stabilization. Even if the long impeachment trial brings down Rousseff before the end of the year, Temer will still have to battle this court case.
There is yet a third alternative, which has gained
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