Power

Five years on, scars of Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment still visible in Brazil

Exactly five years ago, Congress voted to oust Dilma Rousseff as president, after one-and-a-half terms of infighting and mismanagement. A "coup" for some and "necessary" for others, impeachment after-effects are still being felt

Dilma Rousseff leaving the Senate’s stand after delivering arguments against her impeachment prior to the vote which ended her term. Photo: Pedro França/SF/CC-BY 4.0

Five years to the day, Dilma Rousseff became the second Brazilian president to be impeached by Congress in a quarter-century. The acrimonious process bookended an often inept administration, but also deepened political divisions, fueled anti-establishment movements, and left Brazil’s political system in tatters. The traumatic process still bears ripple effects in the country.

Ms. Rousseff was formally ousted for doctoring the budget. While technically an impeachable offense, her crimes were arguably no less heinous than those committed by administrations before her, simply being used as a pretext to jettison a head of state who had lost her ability to govern. 

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