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Brazil's awakening democracy

May 29, 2016

Will Brazil manage to pull itself out of its political quagmire? The situation has become so confusing that Brazil could have to resort to early elections to resolve its impeachment standoff, DW's Astrid Prange writes.

Brasilien Proteste gegen Michel Temer und pro Dilma Rousseff in Sao Paolo
Image: Reuters/N. Doce

Michel Temer's interim presidency shows that Brazil is in the midst of a transformation. For the first time, political and economic elites are being confronted by the possibility of losing their control over the country.

Regardless of whether Brazil is ruled by a military dictatorship or a democratically elected government, a tacit societal agreement has made the power of elites untouchable until now.

Even the orchestrated impeachment of Dilma Rousseff followed this pattern. The right wing lost its patience after 13 years of Workers' Party (PT) rule and had initially sought to have the president resign.

Prange de Oliveira Astrid Kommentarbild App
DW's Astrid Prange

At first glance, Rousseff's critics seemed to be right: Hadn't the involvement of high-ranking members in numerous scandals proved that the PT is just as corruptible as other parties?

A scandal over the state oil company, Petrobras, seems to have confirmed this suspicion. The investigation, known as "Operation Car Wash" in Brazil, has led to charges and the arrest of such esteemed PT members as the former resistance fighters Jose Genoino and Jose Dirceu.

Scandals all around

Public prosecutors have not limited their investigations to the activities of PT members, and President Rousseff's political opponents have found the spotlight on their own activities to be particularly harsh.

The entire political class risks being taken down. The interim government led by Temer, the former vice president, is now under threat of being wiped out in the deluge of continually emerging revelations.

The opposition has not succeeded with its plan of simply replacing the government and having the president impeached to get her out of the way. Maybe this is the good news in a grave series of events. The days of the elites ruling Brazil as if it were their own personal hacienda are over. Brazilians are demanding that their representatives maintain at least a shred of integrity and respect for the law.

Early elections are probably the only way to put an end to the political agony and the economic fall that the world's ninth largest economy would otherwise endure by waiting for the next scheduled vote, in 2018.

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