Brazil is a step closer to ditching its president in the midst of an economic crisis

On the way out?
On the way out?
Image: Reuters/Adriano Machado
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Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is one step closer to being impeached, after a key party in her coalition pulled out of her government.

The PMDB, or Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, decided at a meeting today to leave (link in Portuguese) the troubled president’s coalition. Rousseff, who is facing impeachment for allegedly tampering with the federal budget, needed the PMDB’s support in Congress to prevent that process from going forward.

Impeachment is just one of many problems threatening Rousseff’s government. Her popularity has plummeted as Brazil sinks deeper into its worst economic crisis in decades. Meanwhile, members of her own party, the PT, have been implicated in Brazil’s biggest ever corruption scheme, known as the Lava Jato scandal. Among those allegedly involved is Rousseff’s mentor, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has been charged with money laundering.

Rousseff’s decision earlier this month to add Lula to her cabinet backfired, with thousands of street protestors demanding her to step down in recent days. Last week, The Economist wrote a lengthy editorial (paywall) calling on her to resign.

Rousseff has said repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying efforts to oust her are essentially a coup d’état.

It will take a few weeks to complete the impeachment proceedings  against Rousseff, which began earlier this month. If she is forced out, vice president Michel Temer, the PMDB’s leader, will replace her. But it’s unclear whether a PMDB government would be able to turn Brazil around.  The party, writes Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly, has no clear political ideology and its members have also been entangled in Lava Jato.