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Opinion

Opinion: Impeaching Rousseff, destabilizing Brazil

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is unpopular - but that in itself is not a crime. Plans to instigate impeachment proceedings against her are only deepening the country's political crisis, Rodrigo Abdelmalack writes.

The ice has begun to melt in Brasilia. After months of threatening to do so, National Congress President Eduardo Cunha has instigated impeachment proceedings against Dilma Rousseff. It is a clear abuse of Cunha's political power in order to save his own skin. Cunha is at the heart of a corruption scandal involving Brazil's state-run oil company, Petrobras, which has shocked the whole country. He is being investigated by the parliamentary ethics commission.

It is no coincidence that Cunha gave the go-ahead to the impeachment proceedings on the very day that members of the governing Workers' Party voted in favor of the investigation into his activities. Cunha does not acknowledge any connection. He stated on Facebook that the impeachment proceedings were in response to "the voice of the street" and the protests of March, April and August. Given that several months have passed since then, this suggests a delay atypical for a politician who is otherwise capable of very swift maneuvers.

Abdelmalack Rodrigo Kommentarbild App

DW's Rodrigo Abdelmalack

Aside from the allegations against Rousseff, the situation highlights the moral crisis currently gripping Brazilian politics. And it reveals Cunha's perfidious nature. Despite his assertions to the contrary, it has been proven that he has Swiss bank accounts and has embezzled funds. There is, on the other hand, no evidence to date that Rousseff has been involved in any illegal activity - this in spite of the very thorough investigation conducted into the corruption scandal.

Questioning Cunha's credibility

The recent passage of a supplementary budget for 2015 is a sign that Rousseff is trying to win congressional support. She wants to prevent her government from violating the law that safeguards the budget. This is an important point as it is precisely this accusation that is being made against Rousseff by those who advocate impeachment.

Rousseff can certainly be accused of making political decisions that go against the will of her electorate. And this certainly explains her low approval ratings. But lack of popularity is not in itself a crime.

As for Cunha, his credibility must be called into question. Perhaps his decision to go ahead with impeachment proceedings against Rousseff is the result of his increasing political isolation. Or perhaps it's simply the revenge of an unprincipled politician, one who delivers religious homilies in parliament.

Neither of these justifies rash measures that may plunge Brazil into chaos. Impeachment proceedings would only make the country's already bad economic situation even worse. Perhaps, though, Brazil needs this catharsis. It remains to be seen how the opposition - the same opposition that elected Eduardo Cunha president of Congress in order to weaken the government - will handle the situation. And whether the Workers' Party will manage to drum up enough votes to halt the impeachment process. Brazil faces some important decisions.

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