The uncertainty of Brazil: People’s democratic participation is crucial  

The uncertainty of Brazil’s democratic situation is not easy to read nor is it easy to predict how this will turn out.

When the President of the Chamber, Deputy Waldir Maranhão, decided to repeal the decision handed down in the morning to try to cancel the session of the House that approved opening of the impeachment Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian politics was a laughing stock. Brazilian democracy has shown itself to be in practical terms fragile, defined by self-interest and to some extent non-existence.

Impeachment isn’t just another legal case, nor is it a political dispute in which the decisive measure is the will of the majority. What is at stake in the case of Rousseff’s impeachment is the very legitimacy of the Brazilian democratic regime. This process is actually harming and bringing it to a period of standstill. The argument that Brazil’s is actually a plutocracy shouldn’t be dismissed. What about the 54 million people who voted for Rousseff’s administration? Rousseff hasn’t committed a crime to date that justifies such action against her.

What the likes of Michel Temer and Eduardo Cunha need to understand is that nationally and internationally people are aware of what is occurring in Brazil.

The institutional, plutocratic, manoeuvre to disqualify Rousseff as president is evident. Brazil is experiencing an institutional crisis and there is a need for a democratic reformulation or even a constitutional one. If Rousseff is overthrown as president by political manipulation will that be a time for clearout of the entire house. How legitimate is a government under Michel Temer?

The Ibope poll released in the beginning of showed that 62% of respondents advocate new presidential elections and only 8% indicate a possible government under vice president Michel Temer as the best solution to the crisis. Now, what the Brazilian people need to do is use this moment for deep re-structuring. For example, Icelanders overthrew government and rewrote their constitution.  It could an opportunity for a group of randomly chosen citizens to rewrite the Brazilian constitution to include measures making politicians more accountable for their acts such as fraud, corruption and tax avoidance. Icelanders forced their entire government to resign after a banking fraud scandal, overthrowing the ruling party and creating a citizen’s group mission of writing a new constitution that offered a solution to prevent corporate greed from destroying the country. The constitution of Iceland was scrapped and is being rewritten by citizens. At this moment in Brazil, politics seems to be in state that is too alarming to be left only to politicians.

People’s democratic participation is crucial to Brazil for any possible reformulation. As noted, it is almost a logical condition of transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic regime also responsible for giving the last word on the meaning of the Constitution. When Brazil maintained the Supreme Court in the democratic transition, it eventually created a valve to the culture, the criteria and the way of seeing the former regime (dictatorship) penetrate the new world. And one of the consequences was a process of gradual dehydration of the normative force of the 1988 Constitution. It is a fascist argument, For example, that the discourse of the presumption of innocence was empty or an absurd. This argument now won in the Supreme Court causes great fear. It is the return, even partially, of its own idea of totalitarian regimes. The Italian legal-technical school has stated that the discourse of the presumption of innocence was empty, it was absurd. The Italian code of criminal procedure, 1930, was the basis for our code of criminal procedure, 1941. And it was a known fascist base. As noted by Doctor in Law Daniel Vargas that, impeachment is provided in the Brazilian Constitution but what will define legitimacy of the impeachment process isn’t a superficial articulation provided by ideas formally in the Constitution, but rather a set of criteria and behaviours that will enable all, as the end of the process, to affirm that the result is acceptable, fair, and constitutional.

By Bruno De Oliveira

Bruno De Oliveira is a Ph.D. student at the University of Brighton. His research is based on analyzing the life experience of homeless people through participatory research. He has worked with the NGO Emmaus Brighton on homeless issues and has produced several publications on the subject.