Has Brazil set an (un)enviable record in democracy (for the third world)?

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Friday, May 13, 2016

Folks, those of us who have been keenly following happenings in Brazil know much about the challenges facing the democratically elected leader (Ms. Dilma Roussef). What began as mere finger-pointing has now culminated in a huge explosion that has shot her out of office and shocked not only her supporters but also many in the world.

As the BBC has reported, “After Wednesday’s all-night session that lasted more than 20 hours, senators voted by 55 votes to 22 to suspend her and put her on trial for budgetary violations.”

The interim Brazilian President now is Michel Temer (the leftist Ms. Rousseff’s vice-president before withdrawing his party’s support in March. She has accused him of involvement in a “coup”).

The 75-year-old Temer is a law professor of Lebanese origin, who was Ms. Rousseff’s vice-president and was a key figure in the recent upheaval (See more at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36283027).

That accusation by Ms. Rousseff aside, the truth is that her political life is doomed, especially in the 180 days that she will be tried on the charges brought against her. If she is found not guilty and reinstated, it will give Brazil and us a lesson to learn in democratic governance.

Although impeaching a President this way is no novelty in our time, the Brazilian example raises the stakes, especially considering the fact that it has happened at a time that Brazil isn’t as vibrant as it used to be a few years ago; and considering the fact that it has already hosted the World Cup and is gearing up to do same for the Olympic Games.

The significance of the impeachment is huge. Supporters of Ms. Rousseff have already bared their teeth and taken to street demonstrations and other acts of defiance, attempting to do what will paralyze the system and register their anger at the toppling of their idol. Now that it has happened, what will they do next, and how will their actions affect Brazil, generally?

How about the opponents of Ms. Rousseff? I suppose they won’t sit down unconcerned for her supporters to register their protests. If they decide to carry out their own version of rebellion or resistance, the situation will deteriorate to the disadvantage of the country.

Considering the massive force that has risen up against her, isn’t it politically alluring for Ms. Rousseff to let go and let Brazil survive the pressure to remain viable?

Interestingly, Brazil is in the group called “BRICS” (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) that came across a few years ago as pooling resources to confront the Western detractors (IMF and the political establishment of the West). No one may be pointing accusing fingers at this stage; but are there unseen hands pulling strings against Ms. Rousseff? What next for Brazil?

In the final analysis, has Brazil given us an eye-opener about how constitutionally prescribed procedures can be followed to deal with a leader who has fallen foul? Instead of a military coup d’état? Or civil unrest to destabilize the system?

Folks, Brazil is tottering toward something worth monitoring.

I shall return…

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