The Brazilian Congress impeached the head of the executive, president Dilma Rousseff. All senators voted, under the processual supervision of the president of the Supreme Court, Ricardo Lewandowski. The result: 61 in favor and 20 senators against the impeachment.
Is it a coup d’etat? Funny to even make this question after seeing more then 70 hours of judgement. Brazil is a republic. The executive, the legislative and the judiciary are equal powers. The law that rules impeachment was made in 1950.
The impeachment is not a coup because:
- The constitution has a list of impeachable offenses. Breaking the budget law is one.
- The decision to impeach comes from Congress, starting in the Lower House.
- The Senate is the final judge and jury on the matter, regardless of third-party interpretations of the law. Senators interpret the law.
- Dilma’s attorneys appealed to the Supreme Court at least two times, citing procedural errors. Once, the Court agreed and took Cunha out of the committee to rule on whether to impeach in the Lower House. All other appeals were dropped.
- Dilma can appeal the Senate impeachment vote to the Supreme Court. If it was a coup, she could not appeal.
- Dilma lives in the Presidential Palace. Usually a coup is an illegal takeover that runs the president out of town.
- Dilma is being investigated for receiving illicit campaign funds from Petrobras, but she is not being tried for anything related to the Petrobras scheme. Therefore, it is irrelevant that Cunha’s co-conspirators are tainted by that scandal. If the co-conspirators had also allowed for, or spent money the government did not have, then we could compare the two ‘crimes’ .