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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UK Politics, World Politics

Panama Papers: Britain has the power to halt underhand tax havens

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It may be the biggest journalistic jackpot of the decade, but the discovery of the Panama Papers should provoke changes to our societies spanning even longer timescales. Over 11.5m files leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists amongst myriad other media stations have clarified stark truths of our split societies. Britain, Iceland, Russia and China, alongside more neighbouring countries have had their tycoons, politicians and oligarchs exposed in relation to such unjust tax evasion.

The tax malpractice revelations of Panamanian legal firm Mossack Fonseca and its clients reveals a deep hypocrisy at the top of our society. The setting up of false companies in order to evade income tax is sanctimonious, and the frequent investment of millions in illegal markets is perilous to the international community. This cycle of shady financing has only aided those with links to some of the most hazardous operations in the world, including the funding of organisations linked to North Korea’s questionable nuclear programme.

If anything, the Panama Papers prove that our society is far from just. David Cameron has commanded many of Britain’s poorest to suffer the effects of devastating austerity whilst the most wealthy have continued to inappropriately satisfy their greedy financial appetites. It is unscrupulous that the Prime Minister has advocated for such widespread working class cuts, whilst his relations, Tory party donors, and numerous high earners continue to dodge income levies. In a modern society, the existence of one rule for the rich and another for the ordinary citizen is shameful.

Not only these ravenous Brits who must be flagged up for their blatant wrongdoing. Colleagues of international figures including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and members of the formidable Chinese politburo have, in past days, had their dignity laid before them. Even Iceland’s Prime Minister Davíð Gunnlaugsson is now facing popular calls for his resignation after exposure of he and his wife’s offshore earnings. The intriguing Scandinavian nation boasts one of the best equality ratings in the world, but it is clear that some public officials must still be rebuked. Whilst not all of the aforementioned politicians have themselves taken part in tax dodging, knowledge of such underhand tactics is nothing short of negligence.

It seems that the global leaders who are launching crackdowns on corruption within their home nations just cannot help themselves. Such a gap between the people and their leaders should not exist in the 21st century. The modern class divide goes beyond occupational status or a mere tax band rating. Our elites should not be torn in such an abominable conflict of interests regarding their scheming and shady financial agenda. A select few international politicians evidently seek to strengthen the pockets of only those amongst their own social class, and not the pockets of majority. So who can citizens trust, watching on as their leaders are embroiled in such unforgiveable hypocrisy? Perhaps the most worrying aspect of these revelations is that our rule of law continues to be diminished. The lawmakers are heavy-handedly exploiting the system and continue to prevent the tying of profound excise loopholes. Our politicians are no longer standing up for the hardworking people, small businesses and social justice they once appeared to.

Such striking kleptocracy is alive and well within our global society. It is now time for the true leaders to put an end to this unfair exploitation. In fact, Britain could very possibly stand the moral high ground. With myriad shell companies having been set up in British colonies, the UK has a bright light to shed on operations within such tax havens. Soon, the Cayman Islands, Panama and the British Virgin Islands could become subject to hard-line reprimands. Only with strong support from Britain may principles of income equality and fairness be reinstated with regard to tax contributions worldwide.

There is one answer to this very real issue. Britain has the chance to assume a leading role in the condemnation of exploitative individuals and the abolishment of such unfair loopholes. Without this support, political corruption and large scale deprivation amongst humanity will prevail. Let’s see our politicians advocate for real social justice and the prevention of big business and the most affluent taking such astonishing advantages. Cameron’s blaming of the widespread use of these schemes on HMRC laxity is a puny scapegoat.

Perhaps I am just a pessimist, but Sunday’s landmark leakage has shown us the disgraceful deceit and dishonesty which is abundant throughout society. It has once again reiterated the evils which continue to prevent our global community from progressing towards equality, justice and prosperity.

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