-- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, a longtime advocate of anti-corruption and the first female ever to lead Brazil, is now just hours away from possibly stepping down as the Senate votes on whether she should face impeachment.
Her fate rests in the hands of 81 representatives. If a simple majority votes in favor of impeachment -- 41 is the magic number -- Rousseff will be forced to leave Planalto Presidential Palace for the next six months, while Congress weighs whether she should leave office for good.
Rousseff, once praised for “setting a global standard” on fighting corruption, is now facing an uphill battle to maintain her seat after she allegedly manipulated government finances to hide a growing deficit.
Lawmakers in Brazil’s lower house of Congress last month reportedly voted to start impeachment proceedings against her. When the final tally was announced, 367 lawmakers had voted to impeach Rousseff, more than the two-thirds needed to pass the motion.
Who Is Dilma Rousseff?
Rousseff is a Brazilian economist and politician, the first-ever female elected as president in Brazil.
In 2014, Forbes named her the fourth most powerful woman in the world.
And in April 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showered admiration on Rousseff at the first meeting of the Open Government Partnership, an international initiative co-chaired by Brazil and the United States aimed at fighting corruption.
“I want to commend and thank Brazil, in particular President Rousseff, for the leadership that they have given to this initiative,” Clinton said. “There is no better partner to have started this effort and to be leading it than Brazil, and in particular, President Rousseff. Her commitment to openness, transparency, her fight against corruption is setting a global standard.”
Why Is Rousseff Facing Impeachment?
Rousseff is accused of violating fiscal laws by allegedly using loans from public banks to cover budget shortfalls, which artificially enhanced the budget surplus. She is alleged to have done this to enhance the government’s performance to help her win re-election to a second term in office in 2014.
Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing and says any talk of impeachment is tantamount to a coup.
What Happens Next?
The Senate votes today whether to put Rousseff on trial. If the vote passes, Rousseff will have to step down for 180 days to defend herself in an impeachment trial, and Vice President Michel Temer will replace her.
A Senate trial could last up to six months. If two-thirds of senators were to vote to impeach at the trial's conclusion, Rousseff will be out of office for good.