Opinion, by Michael Royster

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon is today reminded of a well-worn Brazilian phrase: “tudo acaba em pizza”. The phrase originated in São Paulo soccer club Palmeiras, where, after ferocious battles for control of the club, the opposing factions all went to a nearby pizzeria and got together for a joint celebration.

Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.
Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.

The “pizza” trigger was the absolutely unprecedented (and legally unjustifiable) decision by STF President Lewandowski, sitting as President pro tempore of the Senate, to permit separate voting on the questions of (a) did President Dilma commit an impeachable crime; and (b) if she did, should her political rights be suspended for eight years, as the Constitution prescribes.

Dilma’s advogados (lawyers) proposed the split and, to (almost) everyone’s surprise, PMDB and most other parties did not object when Lewandowski (appointed to the STF by Lula and a ferocious defender of his Mensalão peccadillos) hastily agreed.

The reason for this surreptitious acquiescence became obvious when the voting finally happened. 61 Senators, more than 75 percent of the 81 members, voted that Dilma had committed an impeachable crime; however, only 42 Senators (just over fifty percent) voted to revoke her political rights, far fewer than the 54 votes required for conviction.

There is a clear Constitutional mandate that impeached Presidents are barred from holding public office after impeachment — as current Senator Collor, an impeached President, having done the time, well knows. But the split vote abrogated that interdiction.

Who were the pizzaiolos? PMDB pols, led by Senate President Renan Calheiros. Dilma’s reign always depended on PMDB support; this she lost last April, when PMDB rats, led by Congressman Eduardo Cunha, deserted her sinking ship. PMDB seized its opportunity to have one of its (unelected) own as President, for the first time since José Sarney succeeded Tancredo Neves.

Many PMDB politicians had occupied cabinet positions under Dilma and Lula and had been allowed to nominate the key executives of government-owned companies like Petrobras and Eletrobras. Therefore, there was a certain lingering feeling among PMDB pols that they might be considered insufficiently grateful for the largesse they had received in the past.

How to solve this problem? Quite simple, really. It’s okay to get Dilma out of office, just don’t take away her political rights. And at the appointed hour, although only two PMDB Senators voted not to impeach, eleven of them (including Renan) voted not to bar her from holding office.

So, even if the former opponents didn’t exactly go out together for pizza and beer, anyone with a brain can see that (almost) everybody in Congress was now more or less satisfied with this quasi-Solomonic solution.

Or so it appears today: one never knows, because appeals to the STF may be forthcoming from both sides of the aisle. To quote another common Brazilian phrase, “things happen in Brazil that even God can’t believe.”

The Curmudgeon explained his theory last night to a Brazilian friend, who said “so it’s an IM-PIZZA-MENT”. And so it is. Thank you Ana for this tagline.


  1. This disgusting action to protect corrupt politicians stinks at the highest level. With this, any high level politician who is kicked out of office for corruption can run in the next election, and if history shows us anything, stupid Brazilians will vote the scum back into office, not having to be affected by Ficha Limpa laws. If they were to vote against the second vote, Dilma’s impeachment would have been reversed at the same time. This is the coup that we saw at the impeachment, and makes me feel we are getting nowhere with the Ficha Limpa law. Brazilians deserve the scum they put into office, and the horrible results of their choices.

  2. Well let’s remember that Dilma hasn’t, as I understand it, actually been proved guilty of corruption, unlike many of those voting for her impeachment. Nor did she do anything much different to what other Presidents of Brazil and eksewhere have done in the past. She has done a fair bit to help Brazil’s poorest, so I don’t see a problem with leaving her with her political rights and a slice of pizza. I do find it distasteful that the previous correspondent feels it necessary to imply that the Brazilian people deserve what they get for voting in ‘scum’. I don’t know where he is from but few countries can boast squeaky clean politicians and at least Brazil is not afraid to let us see the dirty washing!

  3. I guess that I have a different value set than one of the respondents.
    When a president 1) totally jiggers the books to make inflation disappear, 2) cooks the unemployment numbers to make it appear to be that of an industrialized country – 4%, 3) doubles the national debt over 4 years, 4) imports slave labor from Cuba, 5) runs a deficit equal to nearly 10% of GDP and lies about all of these in order to barely win her re-election, I believe that president has committed massive fraud and stolen an election and distorted the will of the people.
    That crime, is far more serious, at least to my set of moral values, that stealing a few million bucks.

    This woman is a pathological liar and certifiably nuts. Listen to her recent speeches and compare them to reality. There is not comparison to reality because she’s crazy.


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