Networked Notes - 26 April 2016

By Southern Pulse Staff and Network

Brazil’s Senate is likely, but not certain, to accept the impeachment vote by the Lower House, leading to a 180 day suspension from office for President Dilma Rousseff. However, Brazil’s Senate President Renan Calheiros is among the Senators hoping to manage this process in a more civilized and organized manner.

The tone and content of the Lower House’s impeachment proceedings were an embarrassment for Brazil’s politicians, both domestically and internationally. The failure by most politicians to cite the actual charges against President Rousseff was compounded by the number of politicians who treated the impeachment as a party to be celebrated. With many Brazilian citizens watching a Congressional vote for the first time, what they saw was a mess that confirmed their worst fears about the country’s entire political class, not just the president. 

Coverage of the impeachment in the days since the vote has added to the problem. Numerous articles have been written about the corruption scandals involving the members of Congress who voted in favor of impeachment. One politician who cited his family as a reason for his vote in favor of impeachment spent part of the time texting on WhatsApp with his mistress. 

Brazil’s Senate President Renan Calheiros is aware his own political future may depend as much on getting the tone and content of the process correct as getting the actual impeachment vote through the institution. A public dispute between Brazil’s Senate President Renan Calheiros and House Speaker Eduardo Cunha has broken out in recent days as the two political leaders, both from the PMDB but far from personal friends, have attacked each other’s actions. Calheiros is betting that separating himself further from Cunha is a smart political move. 

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Kenji Fujimori, the brother of presidential candidate Keiko and the likely leader of Peru’s Congress, says he will run for president during the next election if his sister loses the runoff. This directly contradicted Keiko’s pledge that nobody from her family would run in the next election. That hurts the first round winner, who faces a second round campaign largely based on the negative perception of her last name and her father’s legacy.

Perhaps more importantly, it is a reminder of how much power Kenji will likely have in the coming five years. If his sister wins the presidency, the two will dominate the political scene. If Pedro Pablo Kucyznski wins in the runoff, Kenji will be the leader of a unified opposition in Congress. Either way, he is a presumptive frontrunner in 2021.