Opposition activists handcuffed themselves to a pillar in Brazil’s Congress on Wednesday, seeking the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff for mismanaging a once-booming economy and undermining confidence in the country.
The small protest inside the foyer of the lower chamber highlighted the growing pressure on Brazilian politicians to begin impeachment proceedings against a president struggling to survive economic recession and a huge corruption scandal.
“Impeachment can’t wait. Brazil cannot put up with more unemployment, recession, inflation, currency devaluation and lack of international confidence. We have to remove this president,” said the group’s leader, Carla Zambelli.
Opinion polls have shown that two of every three Brazilians want to see Rousseff impeached, and her political opponents are stepping up their efforts to unseat the leftist leader one year into her second term.
The demonstrators called on Eduardo Cunha, speaker of the lower house of Congress, to take up an impeachment request made by lawyers from opposition parties. Legal advisers in Congress said the petition was in order on Tuesday, giving Cunha a green light to proceed.
But the speaker, who is himself fighting for his political survival after revelations of secret bank accounts reinforced corruption accusations against him, has said he is in no hurry to set impeachment proceedings in motion.
The Rousseff government is counting on Cunha to hold off an impeachment, presidential aides say, because he needs the votes of the ruling Workers’ Party to avoid being ousted by a Chamber of Deputies ethics committee that will start meeting next Tuesday.
If Cunha accepts an impeachment request, a special committee must decide whether to go ahead. It would then need a two-thirds vote in the house to start a trial in the Federal Senate.
Rousseff aides are confident that she can muster enough votes from her fractious coalition to block impeachment for now. But that could change if the worst economic slump in 25 years continues to deepen and more allies abandon the government.