BRASÍLIA — The Wall Street Journal reports that Brazilians who celebrated President Dilma Rousseff’s ouster from office Thursday May 12 now confront a sobering economic and political picture, with a narrow window for making changes under a new but no less unpopular leader.
As day broke Thursday morning, Brazil’s Senate voted 55 to 22 to suspend Ms. Rousseff and put her on trial for allegedly using bookkeeping maneuvers to cover a growing budget deficit.
In a swift transition following months of political stalemate, Ms. Rousseff, 68, yielded her post to Vice President Michel Temer, 75, a patrician lawyer, amateur poet and renowned backroom deal maker. He will serve as acting president for up to six months during her trial before the Senate. If Ms. Rousseff is found guilty, Mr. Temer, a former ally-turned-foe, would serve out the 2½-year remainder of her term. However, he too could face the prospect of impeachment on charges similar to those leveled at Ms. Rousseff.
In a brief speech following the vote, Ms. Rousseff, the country’s first female president, vowed to fight the charges against her and repeated her accusations that the impeachment drive amounted to a coup d’état. One of the country’s biggest unions, the CUT, said Thursday it wouldn’t recognize Mr. Temer’s government.
“I may have made mistakes, but I committed no crimes,” Ms. Rousseff told the cheering crowd, many wearing the traditional red T-shirts of her leftist Workers’ Party. “I will never stop fighting.”
The Senate’s vote prompted scattered cheering and car-honking across the country, as Brazilians weary of the grinding political chess match vented their relief.
The reaction in Brazilian financial markets was mixed Thursday. The real exited active trading at 3.4716 to the dollar, according to Tullett Prebon via FactSet, weakening from Wednesday’s close of 3.4466. The Ibovespa stocks index closed up 0.9% at 53241 points on Thursday.
Any sense of a new dawn for the country may be short-lived, given the challenges awaiting the new administration: the deepest economic contraction in a century; a massive corruption scandal oozing out from state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras; the mosquito-borne Zika health epidemic; and an infuriated leftist opposition led by a defiant Ms. Rousseff.
“The focus now will be on Temer,” said political analyst Paulo Carlos Calmon, from the University of Brasília. “He will have a short window to show his mettle.”
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