Brazilian Senate votes to open impeachment trial against President Dilma Rousseff

Jake Cordell
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Dilma Rousseff faces strong opposition in the Senate over allegedly breaking Brazil's budget laws
Dilma Rousseff faces strong opposition in the Senate over allegedly breaking Brazil's budget laws (Source: Getty)

The Brazilian Senate has voted to open an impeachment trial against suspended President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff was suspended in May over alleged accounting discrepancies. She is accused of breaking Brazil's budget laws by implementing government spending without approval from Congress. Her opponents state she used unauthorised loans from state banks to improve the economic picture ahead of the 2014 election.

The 81-member Senate voted 59 to 21 in favour of going ahead with the trial early this morning after a marathon debate which lasted 20 hours. The trial will likely take place at the end of this month, with the saga casting a shadow over the country as the 2016 Olympic Games approaches its second week in Rio.

Rousseff's running mate, Michel Temer is currently acting as the President of Brazil on an interim basis. Should Rousseff be impeached, Temer would remain in power until the next scheduled elections in 2018.

For impeachment to be granted, two-thirds of Brazil's senators - a total of 54 - must vote against Rousseff in the final stage of the process. With 59 members of the Senate voting to open the trial against a shrinking core of support for the suspended President of just 21, reports suggest she will lose her fight to stay on.

Investors seem hopeful that Temer can steady the ship once he assumes the role of President in a permanent capacity. Shares on the Brazilian Ibovespa stock market are trading at their highest level since May 2015. Its currency, the real, has also strengthened by around one-third over the year.

Read more: Brazil's economic woes won't end with Rousseff

Brazil's economy shrunk by 3.8 per cent last year and the the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pencilled in another 3.8 per cent fall this year before the country finally exits recession in 2017.