Sunday, April 17, 2016

Downfall of Rousseff

It is a ugly spectacle to see Brazil's democratically elected first female president is impeached in the lower house and in all probability on her way out in the upper chamber too. It is worrisome because only in last few decades Brazilian political system has been getting the practice of democracy right and here you have a legitimately elected president ousted when she directly did not do the corruption, nor she has any foreign bank accounts or she did not do any different accounting than her predecessors; the government accounting irregularities for which she is impeached.  So when experts fear that anytime a Brazilian President is unpopular, she faces impeachment making the office of presidency essentially impotent; that fear is true. It is bad that Rousseff did not become unpopular for taking 'some decisions' which Brazilian society needed anyways. She became unpopular because of 'end of commodity prices super cycle' (all driven by China) and due to her own ham handed management of the political situation. However, what her impeachment proceedings show is the genuine possibility of under cutting any future Brazilian president who wants to take 'unpopular but courageous decisions' to right the ship. That is bad for Brazilian democracy and that is the real loss here.

In a sense Rousseff is responsible for such a degradation of the office of Brazilian Presidency. To start with she failed to argue early on and emphatically about how any such impeachment proceedings are essentially a 'coup'; given that she herself had not broken any law. She argued such a case way late in the game. If she were not to argue about the long term aspects of the issue, she simply failed to adopt the right tactics in any case to retain the office of presidency.

The one thing which broke the back of the camel - it was a ham handed way of trying to protect Lula as well as to bring in his political acumen by appointing him for a cabinet position so as he is shielded from any legal proceedings. It showed that Dilma did not have confidence in her own abilities to stir the ship of Brazil State as well as she is essentially sold out in protecting her political mentor. That is a classic step to demonstrate her own dispensability. Once public considers you dispensable, even as a sacrificial lamb; the down hill starts from there.

The basic political reason for Lula, his party and Rousseff to exist is for their commitment towards working class in improving their economic conditions. Once the commodity super cycle ended, Rousseff failed in sensitizing Brazilians about the incoming hard times. Worse, by being at the center of causes of uncertainty in Brazilian political economy, she simply failed to note how damaging that uncertainty has been to the very constituency she and her party care about. Rousseff needed to find ways to reduce uncertainty in Brazilian political economy; she continued to stand still while the storm has been raging around her. That landed up creating the impression to Brazilians that in the end, their economic predicament can improve only when Rousseff is gone; whether it is fair or not, that does not matter.[1]

What next for Brazil then? President Temer may bring some stability, but unless Brazilian system completes investigations and punishment of all guilty in Petrobras scandal and conducts fresh elections to get a fresh mandate; we are unlikely to see more clarity. That means, Brazil might have taken a step forward, but the end of people's suffering and the political journey is a long way to go.[2]

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[1] I do not subscribe to a theory that there is a conspiracy on behalf of global right wing political forces to remove a duly elected leftist leaning Brazilian President. That is all non-sense, neither Obama Administration carries water for Right wing Capitalists and hence get motivated to remove Rousseff nor Russian boss Putin is trying to destabilize a leftist government. To say right wing political forces in Brazil engaging in the trench warfare - how different it is supposed to be in any democracy? Here in USA, that is exactly the type of political opposition Barack Obama faced since early months of his term. An able politician is supposed to deal with that, Dilma Rousseff simply failed in that. Don't blame on some nebulous right wing conspiracy for her down fall; she herself contributed most to that calamity; unfortunately in which working class Brazilians suffer most. 

[2] This is a progress compared to Brazil's neighbor across the Southern Atlantic - the state of South Africa. There the president Zuma is actually a corrupt politician who is milking state for his own personal benefit while not bothering welfare of common citizens. What is more, ANC in the end keeps shielding her corrupt leader; in process failing South Africans. Compared to such a disgusting politics, Brazilians are at least trying to move forward from their morass while South African politics shows no signs of progress.

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