Rousseff Narrowly Wins Re-election
In the 2014 presidential election, President Rousseff led the Oct. 5 first round of voting by 42%. However, she faced Aecio Neves in an Oct. 26 runoff. Neves, popular with investors, was a surprise second-place finisher in the first round, coming in with 34% of the vote. In the Oct. 5 parliamentary elections, Rousseff's Workers' Party won the most seats, taking 70 of 513.
Rousseff won the Oct. 26 runoff by a slim margin. She took 51.6% of the vote to Neves 48.4%. Throughout the election, Rousseff campaigned that her party's 12-year rule had helped 35 million citizens overcome poverty. However, Brazil has also seen a recession in recent years, as well as a major oil company go bankrupt, and corruption charges, all factors in making the presidential election a close one. The controversial $11.5 billion price tag to host the World Cup almost threatened Rousseff's re-election, but the event ended up being hailed a success.
Protests were held throughout 2015 against President Rousseff, calling for her impeachment, due to allegations that she had been involved with the Petrobras scandal. Rousseff's alleged involvement in the scandal includes knowledge of kickbacks and corruption from 2003 to 2010, when she was on the board of directors at Petrobras. Rousseff denied having any knowledge of the scheme and no evidence of her involvement has been found. Federal Judge Sergio Moro led an investigation, approved by the Supreme Court, into the matter.
In Aug. 2015, Judge Moro ruled that there were signs that Rousseff's former Chief of Staff Gleisi Hoffmann had received bribes. In addition, a Federal Accounts Court prosecutor accused Rousseff of delaying $40 billion reais ($11.5 billion dollars) in payments to hide the country's poor financial situation in 2014. President Rousseff was told by the court that she needed to respond to the accusations by the following month. The new accusations, along with country's stalled economy, increased calls for Rousseff's impeachment.
On Dec. 3, 2015, the Chamber of Deputies opened impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff for allegedly manipulating government funds and laws in order to secure her re-election. In response, Rousseff expressed her outrage in a television address to the country. In the address, she said, "I have received with indignation the decision by the head of the lower chamber to the impeachment process. There is no wrongful act committed by me, nor are there any suspicions that I have misused public money." For the impeachment to succeed, the proposal to have Rousseff removed would need the support of at least two-thirds of the deputies, meaning 342 of 513 lower house votes.