For the second time in under a quarter century, Brazil's Chamber of Deputies has voted to open impeachment proceedings against a democratically elected leader, dealing a devastating blow to President Dilma Rousseff, whose left-leaning Workers' Party came to power 13 years ago on the promise of improving the lot of the poor. The 367-137 vote late Sunday in favor of impeachment was well over the 342 votes needed for the proceedings to move ahead to the Senate, where a majority vote will determine whether Rousseff is put on trial and suspended while Vice President Michel Temer temporarily takes over, the AP reports. The exact date of the Senate vote is not known, but it's widely expected by the middle of next month.
The vote in the lower house sparked elation among many Brazilians, who hold Rousseff responsible for everything from the devastating recession to chronic high taxes and poor public services. At the same time, a broad swath of the population was deeply upset by the results, which many decried as anti-democratic and worrisome. Rousseff has been accused of violating fiscal laws by using sleight-of-hand accounting to maintain government spending. Noting she hasn't been accused of any crime, she insists the impeachment is a "coup" and has pledged never to resign. Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo said after the vote that Rousseff would address the situation Monday. He also hinted an appeal could be filed with the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Brazil's highest court.