Congress to vote on impeaching Rousseff in divided Brazil

Brazil Debates Rousseff's Future

BRASILIA (Reuters) -- Brazil's lower house of Congress will decide on Sunday whether to recommend impeaching President Dilma Rousseff on charges of manipulating budgetary accounts, in a vote that could hasten the end of 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule.

The political crisis, which comes amid Brazil's worst recession since the 1930s, has deeply divided the South American country and sparked an acrimonious fight between Rousseff and her Vice President Michel Temer, who would take over if she is dismissed.

In a frenzied round of last minute deal-making on Saturday, Rousseff appeared to have clawed back the votes of some wavering lawmakers but still appeared to lack the one-third of votes needed in the 513-seat lower house to avoid being sent for trial in the Senate.

19 PHOTOS
Brazil impeachment -- demonstrations and protests
See Gallery
Congress to vote on impeaching Rousseff in divided Brazil
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Pro-impeachment supporters watch a live television broadcast as lower house deputies cast their votes in the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff on April 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. President Rousseff is facing a crucial impeachment vote in the lower house of Congress today. Rio will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Giant balloons depicting President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and former President of Brazil Inacio Lula Da Silva are displayed by protesters in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff on April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Cris Faga/LatinContent/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets on April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Cris Faga/LatinContent/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
A supporter of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff follows on big screens in Sao Paulo, the voting of lawmakers at the Congress in Brasilia on whether the impeachment of Rousseff will move forward, on April 17, 2016. The voting followed a raucous debate that transfixed the deeply divided nation. The opposition needs a total of 342 out of the 513 deputies in the lower house of Congress to authorize the trial. Rousseff, whose approval rating has plunged to a dismal 10 percent, faces charges of embellishing public accounts to mask the budget deficit during her 2014 reelection. / AFP / Miguel Schincariol (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff follow on big screens in Sao Paulo, the voting of lawmakers at the Congress in Brasilia on whether the impeachment of Rousseff will move forward, on April 17, 2016. The voting followed a raucous debate that transfixed the deeply divided nation. The opposition needs a total of 342 out of the 513 deputies in the lower house of Congress to authorize the trial. Rousseff, whose approval rating has plunged to a dismal 10 percent, faces charges of embellishing public accounts to mask the budget deficit during her 2014 reelection. / AFP / Miguel Schincariol (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters opposed to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff watch the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Activists supporting the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff take part in a demonstration in Sao Paulo Brazil on April 17 2016. Brazilian lawmakers voted Sunday on whether President Dilma Rousseff should face impeachment trial in a tense, at times circus-like showdown watched live by millions around the deeply divided country. / AFP / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Pro-impeachment supporters watch a live television broadcast before lower house deputies cast their votes in the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff on April 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. President Rousseff is facing a crucial impeachment vote in the lower house of Congress today. Rio will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters opposed to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters opposed to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff watch the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Rousseff's charismatic predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, led the deal-making to keep her in office and drafted in governors from several states to pressure legislators on Saturday, swinging the momentum back in Rousseff's favor.

"The governors' participation is proving decisive," said Paulo Teixeira, one of the Workers' Party's leaders in the lower house.

Thousands of police were due to deploy in the capital Brasilia on Sunday, and in the mega-cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where hundreds of thousands of pro- and anti-impeachment demonstrators were expected to take to the streets.

A 2-meter (6.5-foot) high wall outside Congress, stretching for more than 1 km (0.6 of a mile) on the grassy esplanade between rows of ministries, showed the stark political divide in what remains one of the world's most unequal societies.

Polls suggest that more than 60 percent of Brazil's 200 million people support impeaching Rousseff, whose inner circle has been tainted by a vast corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras.

The Workers Party, however, can still rely on strong support among millions of working class Brazilians, who credit its welfare programs with pulling their families out of poverty during the last decade.

PARALYZED GOVERNMENT

The impeachment crisis has paralyzed activity in Brasilia, just four months before the country is due to host the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and as it seeks to battle an epidemic of the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in newborns.

While Rousseff herself has not been personally charged with corruption, many of the lawmakers who will decide her fate on Sunday have.

Congresso em Foco, a prominent watchdog group in Brasilia, says more than 300 of the legislators who will vote on Sunday - well over half the chamber - are under investigation for corruption, fraud or electoral crimes.

If Rousseff loses Sunday's vote, the Senate must decide whether there are legal grounds to hear the case against her, a decision expected in early May.

Should it agree to do so, Rousseff would be suspended from office and Temer would automatically take over.

Financial markets in Brazil have rallied strongly in recent weeks on hopes that Rousseff's dismissal would usher in a more business-friendly Temer administration. Sources close to the vice president told Reuters on Friday he was considering a senior executive at Goldman Sachs in Brazil for a top economic post.

Whoever governs the country in the coming months, however, will inherit a toxic political environment, a deeply divided Congress, rising unemployment and an expected contraction of four percent this year in the world's ninth largest economy.

More in the news:
Arianna Huffington shares 1 major key to transforming your life
Man who shot Maryland firefighters thought he was stopping break-in
British plane may have collided with drone at Heathrow, lands safely-police
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.