Written by Staff Writer by Claire Woods, CNN
Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, convicted of breaking budget laws and suspended by Congress in May, is currently taking her last steps as a political leader.
This week, her allies in the Brazilian Left — spearheaded by former Finance Minister Guido Mantega — filed a motion in the National Chamber of Deputies to be elected speaker of the house, which would render her ineligible for running again in 2018.
“It would be consistent with a short end to her political career. To say that I’m surprised is a huge understatement,” Jeff Gaulin, deputy editor of the Guardian, told CNN.
“But it would be completely consistent with her reputation as someone who actually does believe in the things she’s saying. That’s a fatal point.”
An intervention that falls flat
When Rousseff returned to power in 2010, she embarked on a business-friendly agenda of higher taxes, free trade deals and broad labor reforms, but was re-elected in 2014 on promises of social investments and reduced inequality.
Within months, however, her popularity plummeted and she was impeached for breaking budget laws.
“She was seen as being a leftist vision of the country, and thus a very popular position within the politics of Brazil in the period before her political party was voted out of office in 2016,” said Gaulin.
The other candidate
Mantega, a close ally of Rousseff, is currently the House’s leader, but would vacate the position if he is elected to the speaker’s seat.
Even before Rousseff’s trial, Mantega’s promotion to a key position of power had received criticism from critics.
In the week after she was barred from a third term, a poll by Brazilian news outlet Folha de S.Paulo found that only 17% of those surveyed trusted Mantega.
Finance Minister Allan Engelson was quick to praise Mantega, calling his support of Rousseff and the impeachment “a loyal and reliable ally.”
“That could be the best argument for him being elected,” Gaulin said.
“Politically it’s impossible for him to get elected, but also constitutionally, he doesn’t need to get elected, in that he was imprisoned and jailed for a violation of an institution.”
Fidelity to the institutions is key to securing a return to political office for Mantega, experts say.
He currently sits in the house of a body which was the victim of political warfare, courtesy of Rousseff and the impeachment process. He has even presided over committees examining the impeachment and corruption cases against the former president.
The court eventually found Rousseff guilty of using spending cuts to disguise the true size of her budget and suspended her from office in May.
“The clearest example I saw of this was her impeachment hearing in April where she ridiculed it, as a fake procedure [and she said], ‘that’s the worst political hearing in this whole country’s history’,” said Gaulin.
“She clearly used her time in office to hone her skills to play partisan games with public bodies.”
Throughout his time in office, Rousseff was constantly criticized for the way she ran her administration, in particular for her handling of the country’s economic crisis and battle with inflation.
According to BBC Brasil, Rousseff has been sentenced to at least 21 years in prison.