Brazil’s Senate indicts Rousseff and opens impeachment trial

Brazil’s Senate voted early on Wednesday to indict President Dilma Rousseff on charges of breaking budget laws and put her on trial in an impeachment process that has stalled Brazilian politics since January. With the eyes of the world on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, senators in the capital Brasilia voted 59-21 against the suspended leftist leader in a raucous, 20-hour session presided over by Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski. A conviction would definitively remove Rousseff from office, ending 13 years of leftist rule by her Workers Party, and confirm that interim President Michel Temer will serve out the rest of her term through 2018.

The cards are marked in this game. There is no trial, just a sentence that has already been written.

Workers Party Senator Jorge Viana

Rousseff’s opponents needed only a simple majority in the 81-seat Senate to put her on trial for manipulating government accounts and spending without congressional approval, which they say helped her win re-election in 2014. A verdict is expected at the end of the month and will need the votes of two-thirds of the Senate to convict Rousseff, five votes less than her opponents mustered on Wednesday. Wednesday’s vote showed the movement to oust Rousseff has gained strength in the Senate, which had voted 55-22 in May to take up the impeachment proceedings initiated in the lower house in December. It also looked like game over for Rousseff who lost crucial ground instead of winning over more senators. This will strengthen Temer’s hand as he strives to establish his legitimacy and stabilise Brazil politically.