On October 2014, Dilma Rousseff got reelected as president of Brazil (wiki article on it). One year later, an impeachment against her started and by August 2016 she was removed from office.

All the process of the impeachment was quite controversial. For example we can read:

In May 2016, just after Senate voted to suspend Rousseff's presidential powers. A New York Times editorial voiced support for Rousseff's concerns about the integrity and possible ulterior motives of the politicians who voted for her impeachment, though it considered her defense "debatable".

The presidency of the country was then given to Michel Temer, whose popularity was been quite low. From Accused of corruption, popularity near zero – why is Temer still Brazil's president?:

If Brazil’s recent decline could be plotted in the falling popularity of its presidents, Michel Temer represents the bottom of the curve.

In 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ended his second term with an 80% approval rating. In March 2016 – four months before she was impeached – his protege and successor Dilma Rousseff’s administration had a 10% rating.

Last month, the government of Temer, Rousseff’s former vice-president, plunged to 3% in one poll. Among under 24-year-olds, Temer’s approval hit zero.

After all of this, the presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro got a 46% of the popular vote in the first round. Bolsonaro is described as nationalist and populist in nature, and he is an advocate of far-right policies (wiki). This, after Brazil having a leftist president on 13 of the last 15 years (Lula da Silva 2003-2011 and Dilma Rousseff 2011-2016, then Michel Temer 2016-2018).

All in all, my question is: to what extend did the impeachment turn politics in Brazil in a way that a completely different political view can gain majority?

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    You mean like after 12 years of Reagan/Bush, Clinton and Democrats won power in US? And after 8 years of Clinton, people got tired and elected Bush Jr? And after 8 years of him, they got tired and elected Obama? People are known to throw long sitting corrupt incumbents out, sometimes even ignoring ideology.
    – user4012
    Oct 15, 2018 at 13:32
  • @user4012 interesting comment. However, you miss the key point I mention in the title about the impeachment that was used to throw (using your verb :D) Rousseff out of power.
    – fedorqui
    Oct 15, 2018 at 13:37
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    i'm asserting that the two are either uncausative, or the causation is likely the opposite way. Impeachment happened because people grew tired of incumbents' power, not vice versa (538 likes to stress on this point in regards to US impeachments)
    – user4012
    Oct 15, 2018 at 13:41

3 Answers 3


All in all, my question is: to what extend did the impeachment turn politics in Brazil in a way that a completely different political view can gain majority?

In 180 years of Brazil's post-monarchy history, whichever president or dictator happened to be in power during a major economic decline lost his rulership. It would have been a major exception to the rule if PT was reelected after the current economic crisis.

Of course, if by some miracle Dilma had managed to recover the economy during her remaining years of mandate, things would have been different, but as many economists in Brazil observed, the economy needed sour medicines that the left-wing has a very hard time swallowing. Dilma would need to betray her core electorate to save the economy.

Also, her party PT made a major point of fending off any left-wing parties that could have had any chances of winning the election, this included Ciro Gomes and his party PDT, the 3rd placed candidate who could have won the election should PT had refrained from launching its own candidate.

Center candidates were quite weak or entangled in corruption during this election, so they failed to present themselves as viable options.

Hence, the right had it's chance.

I would say the impeachment had little to no effect to this change in the voters ideological preference, with mostly the economic scenario and the hegemony of PT on the left-wing being the culprit for the right turn.

  • You say effects are little or none. The impeachment started because of the Lava Jato's investigation. After the investigation started, the impeachment begun. So, what about the investigation as a political tool to gain majority?
    – nelruk
    Oct 29, 2018 at 19:41
  • @nelruk : That is a very complex and difficult question to answer. The impeachment however did not start only because of Lava Jato investigation, motion to impeach Dilma had begun as early as the day after her election (mostly for poor reasons I would say). These gained traction with Lava-Jato, poor economy performance, and her gross mistakes on public accounting. The corner point for her impeachment in my opinion was the accusation of Eduardo Cunha (then the head of congress) in Lava Jato, which caused him to retaliate with submitting impeachment processes for voting.
    – Mefitico
    Oct 29, 2018 at 19:50
  • @nelruk : Investigation as a political tool is something hard to argue about. The amount of fake news during the current election has been quite impressive, so I don't believe people are giving that much importance to news claiming that a politician in under investigation (especially when little concrete evidence is presented). Circumstances change when people start getting convicted. Law in Brazil forbids someone convicted on a collegiate trial to run for elections (this law was sanctioned by Lula himself, later to become uneligible for this precise reason).
    – Mefitico
    Oct 29, 2018 at 19:54

It was not the impeachment that transformed Brazil's political vision. The Impeachment was a result of the process of political maturation of the people. Of course, the latent incompetence of the president has contributed a lot to this outcome, but I believe that a conservative president would be elected in any case this year, and the strongest evidence of this is the result of the 2014 elections. Dilma won the elections by a very narrow margin, and the proportion of abstentions and white and void votes was very high, which shows that people did not feel represented by either of the candidates.

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    I cannot consider objective an answer that defines political maduration to when people start thinking on a specific manner
    – fedorqui
    Oct 25, 2018 at 20:33
  • I struggle with calling Bolsonaro a "conservative". He is no "leftist", that's for sure, but that doesn't make him a conservative.
    – Thern
    Oct 26, 2018 at 14:30
  • He will not allow abortion laws to pass, and he will work to make easier for people to keep and bear firearms. Also, will do anti-drugs campaign. None of this are progressist flags. Oct 29, 2018 at 13:16
  • @fedorqui You can't consider "political maduration"... But it is what it is. Your question was about how the impeachment changed the people's minds, and the fact is that it doesn't... People's minds were already changed before the 2014 elections. Oct 29, 2018 at 13:19
  • @Thern : An expression that has been repeated a lot during this election could be translated as: "Liberal in the economy, conservative for habits". Both Bolsonaro and Amoedo made this claim. It basically means that they allegedly buy into the economic liberalism, but defend "conservative" vies on culture-related topics, such as religion, abortion laws, gun ownership and so on.
    – Mefitico
    Oct 29, 2018 at 20:38

This is a result of "right-turn" of US politic on South America. Bolsanaro openly supports Trump and that "right-turn". He introduced Brazil politics changings:

  • closing ties with China
  • support for US pressure on Venezuela
  • aim on friendship with "peaceful, democratic countries"
  • openly justifying previous military dictatorship in Brazil (US-backed as we know)

for example, https://rte.ie/amp/1007310/

Along with this, shortening social spendings, privatization of goverment-controlled corporations. What purposes for privatisation? I doubt if Brazil investors have money to take part in it. US investors - surely have. So, this is just part of protectorate - transfering industries into foreign hands.

To make an abstract. US is making general cleaning on its 'backyard', as it was called by Monroe doctrine. What we are seeing? Just another example of Pinochet. "It's bastard, but it is our bastard" as was said.

And about impeachment strictly - that was the start of "right-turn". Dilma Rousseff had many deals with "non-democratic" countries, Brazil took part in BRICS, so, for what does the US need such government on its 'backyard'?

Why only in 2014? Maybe, because of standoff with Russia become much more sharp and intensive in 2014 - after western-backed (and Nuland cookies-backed of course) uprising in Ukraine and civil war there. Maybe US elites decided, that time has come, and they have to make 'peaceful and democratic' South America right now, just to have a peaceful rear.

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    Downvoters, please, leave your comments and argumentation. If you have only emotions, you can happily leave it on your side of screen.) Oct 30, 2018 at 5:59
  • A lot of points require caution with your post: 1) Bolsonaro does not intend to "close ties" with China, he is very far from placing tax barriers as Trump did. What he mentioned many times is that he wants "China to buy in Brazil, but not Brazil itself". This is mostly a concern about the privatizing process he wants to conduct, in which he wants to avoid strategic assets from the government getting concentrated under China's control.
    – Mefitico
    Nov 5, 2018 at 18:26
  • Also in the lines of privatization, indeed Brazilian companies and funds do not have the same muscle as China's and North America's, which could pose a threat for the privatisation plan. Requiring spreading the shares of the privatized assets is one mitigation implemented in the past.
    – Mefitico
    Nov 5, 2018 at 18:29
  • Your answer also ignores both the economic crisis that massively hit Brazil starting 2015, the bad taste left on many voters mouths after the 2014 elections (won by Dilma by a very narrow margin), and the massive corruption scandals that hit PT (along with other parties) such as "Mensalão", "Petrolão", "Lava-Jato". The fact that she did not prevent investigations caused the congress to rebel against her, in particular the chamber president Eduardo Cunha (now in jail) who unleashed a series of projects to hinder her popularity and promote her impeachment.
    – Mefitico
    Nov 5, 2018 at 18:33
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    But my bottomline: Your answer is mostly US-centric, while there were plenty of local occurrences driving the plot towards her impeachment, and most if not all of them are hard to connect reasonably to US influence.
    – Mefitico
    Nov 5, 2018 at 18:37

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