Nine months of political paralysis in Brazil have come to an end after the upper house of Brazil’s parliament decisively voted to strip Dilma Rousseff of her presidency for budgetary violations committed during her term.
Sixty-one senators voted for the impeachment, with only 20 standing by the president, who was suspended in May for manipulating data to conceal the scale of economic problems that have piled up since she assumed power five years ago.
But 68-year-old Rousseff was handed a lifeline after the Senate voted not to bar her from holding government office for the next eight years. According to the constitution, an impeached president faces this ban by default, but Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, presiding over the hearing, allowed a separate vote on the matter. Forty-two senators voted in favor of Rousseff, and 36 against, with three abstentions.
Conservative Vice-President Michel Temer, who has deputized for socialist Rousseff since her de facto ouster three months ago, was sworn in as president later on Wednesday, and will serve out the remaining two years of her term.
True to form, in her last speech Rousseff was defiant in the face of accusations, and made a futile call on the senators to “vote for democracy,” accusing her political opponents of staging a “coup.”
“Today’s legal farce removes me from the position I was elected to by the people,” Rousseff said in her personal blog after the impeachment. “The will of 61 senators has replaced that of 54,5 million people who voted for me.”
Rousseff’s lawyer immediately said she would appeal the impeachment through the Supreme Court.
“Right now I will not say goodbye to you. I am certain I can say, ‘See you soon,'” Rousseff said to a gathering of her supporters in capital Brasilia after the session.
Rousseff – the country’s first female leader – is also the first Brazilian leader to be dismissed from office since 1992, when Fernando Collor de Mello resigned before a final vote in his impeachment trial for corruption.