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Opinion

Opinion: With Rousseff suspended, what’s next for Brazil?

The Brazilian Senate has voted to impeach and suspend President Dilma Rousseff. DW’s Francis Franca says once the euphoria wears off, Brazilians will realize that the country's deep crisis is still there.

For now, Dilma Rousseff is no longer the president of Brazil. At least 100 million Brazilians are celebrating the start of her suspension and impeachment proceedings. Many have been waiting for this moment ever since Rousseff began her second term on January 1, 2015. Polls suggest 61 percent of the population were in favor of this result; for them, the Senate's vote is a victory.

But once the euphoria wears off, sobriety is likely to set in, along with a massive hangover. The Brazilian people will come to realize that they are still in the midst of an economic crisis with unemployment and inflation rates in the double digits.

They will have to concede that their country's political, fiscal, and social insurance systems are all in desperate need of reform. And they'll remember that all these reforms will have to be decided by a largely corrupt Congress. Some 60 percent of the 594 members of Congress are currently under investigation, many for corruption.

Unpopular interim president

Effective immediately, the country is in the hands of Rousseff's Vice President Michel Temer, who fares almost as badly as Rousseff in opinion polls. In addition to his unpopularity, he faces another big problem: opposition from Rousseff's Workers' Party, PT. It's the third-largest party in parliament, the second-largest in the Senate, and it's questioning the legitimacy of the new government. The PT will do everything it can to block Temer. On the other hand, this is nothing new for Brazilian politics.

Franca Tiebot Francis

DW's Francis Franca

Temer now has anywhere between six months and two and a half years, depending on how long the proceedings against Rousseff take. Time to govern. He's already said he does not intend to run in the 2018 election. Even if he did want to, he may not be allowed to. Temer was convicted of violating campaign financing limits, so he could be ineligible to run for office for eight years. Opinion polls show that only 2 percent of voters would even support him.

So now Brazil has an unpopular politician with a limited mandate at the helm. His only chance to emerge as a statesman from this crisis is to fight tooth and nail for unity and reforms in Congress. His party, the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), has the most MPs and Senators in both houses of Congress. He also has the opportunity to make history and teach the Workers' Party a lesson at the same time. After all, it governed for 13 years without reforming the political system that it now loves to criticize in its role as opposition party.

End of political paralysis

Temer has not yet announced any concrete plans. Until now, talk is generally of liberalizing the economy, with privatizations, an upper limit for state expenditure, and an examination of social programs. Temer has also promised further support for "Operation Car Wash," as the investigation into the Petrobras corruption scandal is known, in order to take the wind out of his critics' sails.

Skepticism aside, there are two pieces of good news in the wake of Rousseff's suspension. The first is that Brazil's complete political paralysis is now over. And the second is that the endless debate about whether or not to impeach her is also over - at least until her trial.

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