Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff suffered a devastating blow when the Chamber of Deputies voted to open impeachment proceedings against her.
The 367-137 vote in favour of impeachment was well over the 342 threshold needed for the proceedings to move to the Senate, where a majority vote will determine whether Ms Rousseff is put on trial and suspended while Vice President Michel Temer temporarily takes over.
The date of the Senate vote is not known, but it is widely expected by the middle of next month.
Ms Rousseff’s left-leaning Workers’ Party came to power 13
years ago on the promise of improving the lot of the poor.
The vote in the lower house sparked elation among many Brazilians, who hold her responsible for everything from the devastating recession to chronic high taxes and poor public services.
At the same time, large parts of the population were deeply upset by the result, which many decried as anti-democratic.
“I’m happy because I think Dilma had to go, but I’m also both sad that it came to this and also really worried that the next president could be even worse,” said Patricia Santos, 52, a small business owner who was among around 60,000 pro- and anti-impeachment demonstrators outside Congress.
“I quiver to think what awaits us next.”
Ms Rousseff’s party leader in the lower house, Jose Guimaraes, acknowledged the battle had been lost but insisted the war was just beginning.
“The putchists won in the Chamber of Deputies … We can turn it over in the Senate,” he said. “We’re going to continue to fight because we don’t back down and we aren’t going to let ourselves be beat by this momentary loss.”
Solicitor General Jose Eduardo Cardozo said after the vote that Ms Rousseff would not resign and that she would address the situation on Monday. He also hinted an appeal could be filed with the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Brazil’s highest court.