By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After two days of deliberating, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided to annul the December 8th election of the special committee looking into impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff and established several conditions that reduce the chances of Rousseff being impeached.
Analysts say that Rousseff was benefited by the decision by Justices that the members of the Chamber of Deputies committee should be selected by open ballot, not closed as they were on the first election. In an open ballot, allied representatives are less likely to vote for opposition members.
Another decision that has improved Rousseff’s chances of staying in power is that the Senate may overrule the Lower House’s verdict and terminate impeachment proceedings as soon as the process arrives at the Upper House. Analysts agree that Rousseff has a much stronger influence over the Senate than in the Chamber of Deputies.
One issue put before the Supreme Justices that was not ruled in favor of Rousseff was if the President had the right to defend herself before Chamber president Eduardo Cunha opened impeachment proceedings. The Court decided by a unanimous vote that President Rousseff would not be entitled to defend herself before the start of proceedings but would have the right of defense after each stage of the process.
Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, accepted at the beginning of December a request to open impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff stating that there was evidence that the President had violated Brazil’s fiscal laws and manipulated government finances. A week later Cunha called for the creation of a special committee to lead the legislative investigation.
Yet opposition leaders had little time to celebrate winning the chance to head the Chamber’s special committee. Hours after the turbulent session where predominately anti-Rousseff special committee was announced, the country’s Supreme Court decided to suspend the committee and rule on its constitutionality.
The creation of the special Chamber committee will now only occur after the legislative recess, scheduled to end at the beginning of February.