Let's Discuss the Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff Responsibly

09/30/2015 03:24 pm ET | Updated Sep 30, 2016
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The applause that Dilma Rousseff received at the opening of the 70th UN General Assembly on Monday, September 28, may have had a soothing effect on her; it might have even been a brief respite from the crisis she has faced since the beginning of her second term.

She might catch a break overseas, but the president knows that it would take much more than a moving speech on refugees or a pledge to protect the environment, to change the -- audible -- attitudes of Brazilians on the street.

Pot banging, booing and swearing make up the chorus of disgruntled Brazilians, frustrated with a government that has been acting in discordance with their initial campaign promises.

During the 2014 electoral campaign, Dilma declared her main opponents as proponents of austerity, banks, unemployment, and inflation.

This year, under her management, Brazil has faced an increase in unemployment rates and inflation, in addition to a spike in interest-rates and bank profits.

The fiscal adjustment, conducted by Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, has the bitter taste of tax increases. For everyone.

Over the last nine months, those who voted (or voted for a second time) for Dilma have been increasingly disillusioned with a government that is leaning closer to the right than they had expected. The frustration is reflected in the results of a recent Datafolha poll: 71 percent said they are dissatisfied with this government, and 66 percent said that they support Dilma's impeachment.

But are the lies, together with an ailing economy -- felt in everyone's pockets -- enough to remove a president from power?

No. Her "politics" do not typify a particular crime.

Right after she returns from New York, though, the president will have her eyes and ears on the House of Representatives, where its president -- and her archenemy -- Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), will start analyzing more than 10 pending impeachment requests.

The main cause to impeach the president would be violating Brazil's fiscal responsibility law.

The Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) will soon announce that it has rejected the accounts of Dilma's administration for the year 2014.

According to the Valor Econômico newspaper, TCU president, Minister Augusto Nardes will condemn accounting maneuvers adopted by the president last year.

Here is what the government did: it "borrowed" money from public banks (Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal) to pay for social programs, such as Bolsa Família (Family Grant) and unemployment insurance, among other programs.

The problem, however, is that this type of loan is forbidden by the fiscal responsibility law, because it is (yet another) way to manipulate public accounts. In addition, Dilma has delayed payment to the banks.

The TCU estimates that the government's accounting maneuvers between 2012 and 2014 has amounted to R$ 40 billion.

TCU Public Prosecutor Júlio Marcelo de Oliveira, wrote a scathing review of Dilma's administration in a letter submitted to Brazil's audit court:

"What this perplexed nation has witnessed was a real fiscal irresponsibility policy, characterized by bending the rules to favor the interests of the chief executive in an election year, rather than the collective interests and the balance of public accounts."

If all these violations are confirmed by the TCU, then Dilma will have actually made a mistake. A crass mistake. She will have poorly managed public accounts.

The attorney general, on the other hand, finds no illegality and says that previous governments (Lula and FHC) have also resorted to such maneuvers.

Nevertheless, Nardes's position could be the missing ingredient for Congress to start a destructive combustion process within the Executive branch.

An increasingly weakened governing coalition, with the main ally complaining on television about Brazil's current situation, is shaky ground for the president. Add to that the constantly emerging allegations of "Operation Car Wash" (the anti-corruption task force) showing the involvement of major members of the Workers' Party in the billion-dollar corruption scandal at Petrobras, and the successive attempts by the opposition to defeat Dilma in major bills submitted to Congress.

Moreover, deputies from the major opposition party have been voting against fiscal adjustment and, controversially, are trying to create more expenses in order to permanently undermine the government.

If, at such a critical moment for the 2016 budget, and thus for the future of the country, the opposition behaves irresponsibly, how can one expect that the debate around impeachment is seriously conducted, and not contaminated by party or personal interests, as opposed to national interests?

In such a complex scenario, HuffPost Brazil doesn't have definite answers on the fate of this government. But it intends to promote a healthy debate, presenting diverse voices about the current situation, left and right. It is within this forum of ideas, debate and pluralism that we can think about our issues and mature as citizens.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Brazil and was translated into English.