Brazil's embattled president, Dilma Rousseff, has made a last-ditch effort to avoid impeachment, telling MPs - again - that voters should decide if they want an early presidential election. She goes on trial next week.
Rousseff has been publicly considering a plebiscite for some time as the Senate moves closer to an impeachment vote against her. Her administration is charged with violating fiscal rules to hide the country's large budget deficit.
The vote is scheduled for August 25, four days after the end of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The Globo news organization reported on Tuesday that the actual judgment vote could, however, take place between August 30-31.
Holding an early election would require a constitutional amendment that would not likely be supported by Rousseff's opponents in congress, while some in her own Workers' Party loyal to former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have also reportedly been reticent about the idea.
A letter to the people
Rousseff made the proposal official in a letter to the federal senate and Brazilian people. "The full restoration of democracy requires that the population be the one to decide what is the best way to expand governability and perfect the Brazilian political and electoral system," she wrote. "It's the only way out of the crisis."
She also sought to hit a humble note. "I have listened to the tough criticisms of my government for the errors committed," she said. "I accept these criticisms with humility and determination so that we can build a new way forward."
Temer not immune either
Rousseff's term ends in 2018, but if she is removed by the Senate - which many believe is a near certainty - the interim President Michel Temer will serve out the term. The Senate must vote by a two-thirds majority at the end of the judgment session in order to remove her from office.
But Temer is also unpopular after being implicated in investigations into bribes paid to powerful politicians by companies to win contracts from state-run oil giant Petrobras.
A poll taken last month by Datafolha found that 62 percent of Brazilians favored a new election as a way out of the country's political crisis.
Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured under the military dictatorship in the 1970s, said that forcing her out through impeachment amounts to a coup. "It would be an unequivocal coup, followed by an indirect election," she said.
jbh/kl (AP, AFP)