World Politics

Brazil’s democracy is working, but Rousseff should trigger a new revolution

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Whilst Brazil has been widely criticised in recent months over its preparations for the imminent summer Olympic Games, its astonishing poverty rates, and now exposed political corruption, there is at least some form of silver lining to its storm clouds. This week, Brazil’s congress voted in favour of impeaching its President, Dilma Rousseff, who is currently embroiled in an alleged corruption crisis. A still infant democracy, Brazil is far from what political spectators would call perfect. But the fact that nearly four million citizens have mobilised en masse, kindling the next chapter of Brazil’s transformation, must be pleasing.

At least, not for the incumbent President. Recent political events have seen an unsuccessful attempt to cover former President Lula from prosecution for corruption. Furthermore, allegations of fiscal wrongdoing in order to boost Rousseff’s government’s approval ratings are amongst the grounds for her elimination. But now, mass protests are making Rousseff’s impeachment an increasingly legitimate outcome.  If the President is wholly overthrown in a dramatic coup d’état in coming months, it will no doubt mark huge changes for Brazil’s political culture. However, the removal of just one corrupt leader must not mark the end of this stimulating shift.

With a leadership that is seemingly riddled with corruption, many argue that it would be very fair for the frontrunner of Brazil’s political network to be ousted from office. As many as 200 politicians are currently accused of fiscal malpractice, accepting bribes for political acts and strategically evading legal action. Whilst Brazil seems to be taking its new democracy in its stride, those all important qualities of a modern state simply cannot be put into practice with such underhand tactics from the nation’s politicians. How can a rule of law exist, and how can the 52 million people whom voted for Rousseff see their decisions truly implemented?  It is right that Rousseff’s powers of government are removed. Where democracy seems to be on the path towards success, albeit a system which remains very brittle in Brazil, the next stage of the nation’s revolution should be the renouncement of such abominable corruption.

It would be wrong to assume that the instantaneous removal of Rousseff will see the political system quickly fixed. If the Senate does vote in favour of impeachment and a legal committee finds Rousseff guilty, current Vice President Michel Temer would assume power, though himself facing allegations. The grave issues regarding the increasingly susceptible Rousseff should serve to continue Brazil’s transformation. It has been estimated that as many as 3.5 million citizens took to the streets in protest over Rousseff’s shady administration and her corrupt Worker’s Party. Brazil’s overhaul must now become wide-ranging. If Temer is to assume office, the only hope is that 2018’s newly elected government may impose a stringent crackdown on wrongdoing within the political sphere. Many administrative bodies of Brazil’s regime remain substantially politicised, an overwhelming flaw that will prevent the nation’s prosperity and success. The deposition of Rousseff, and perhaps many of her colleagues, must now bring increased political transparency, and a vast purge of other officials involved in such immoral behaviours.

One thing must be comforting though. Over 25 years ago, Brazil’s commitment to democracy was reinstated, and 2016 has further accentuated the nation’s hunger for political progress. The resonant yearning for transparency and accountability has reinforced that Brazil’s society is politically engaged for change. 2016 will see the Olympic Games visit Brazil, another still developing nation, following on from China in 2008. It is said that the Games are the greatest showcase of a nation’s soft power – something that Brazil has, and of good strength. Perhaps its place on the global stage as the epicentre of culture, sport and unity will set it in good stead politically, too. With pressure from international neighbours, and an evidently citizen-driven political culture which is continuing to damn the Rousseff administration, Brazil has better potential for full democracy than ever before. Whilst causing considerable instability and frustration nationwide, the chance of ousting the nation’s malfunctioning government will only aid its transition to fairer and more open politics. The revolution must not stop here. Its people have shown that unfairness in politics is no longer a plausible set up. Society has the power to shake up the nation’s culture, government and identity for the better, and it must grasp this thrilling opportunity for deep-rooted change.

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