The South American country’s Senate voted 61-20 Wednesday to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, finding her guilty of breaking budgetary laws in an impeachment trial.
Michel Temer, Rousseff’s former vice president who has been serving as interim president since her suspension in May, will assume the office of president and serve out the remainder of her term. Temer, a leader of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, was sworn in Wednesday afternoon.
Temer, 75, inherits a tattered economy, along with the keys to the presidential palace in Brasilia, the nation’s capital.
A general election is scheduled for 2018.
Wednesday’s vote marks the culmination of a contentious impeachment process that has dragged on for months. It’s a political crisis that ordinary Brazilians could do well without as the country, which just hosted the Summer Olympics in Rio, is trying to pull itself out of recession.
The Senate’s decision is a major blow for Rousseff, a member of the Workers’ Party, but it might not mark the end of her political career.
While the vote to oust her from office was decisive, a motion to bar her from holding any public office for the next eight years failed.
Rousseff, 68, a former Marxist guerrilla, said earlier this week that she had committed no crime and said she was proud she’d been “faithful to my commitment to the nation.”
Sen. Lindbergh Farias of the Workers’ Party made an impassioned plea against Rousseff’s impeachment.
“This is a farce. This is a pretext. This is absolutely irrelevant. There are two types of senators, the one that know there was no crime of responsibility and vote against the impeachment and those that know there was no crime of responsibility and vote in favor,” he said, shouting from the Senate floor.
Sen. Ronaldo Caiado of the Democrats argued that Rousseff should be ousted, arguing that lawmakers weren’t the ones behind the impeachment process.
“It began because 90% of the population has said loudly, no more (Workers’ Party),” he said.
In May, Rousseff called the impeachment proceedings an attempt at a power grab by her rivals. She said her government has long been the target of political sabotage.
“When Brazil or when a president is impeached for a crime that they have not committed, the name we have for this in democracy — it’s not an impeachment, it is a coup,” she said after the Senate voted to launch the proceedings.
The heir-apparent to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff was re-elected by a narrow margin in 2014, but a recession and a cross-party corruption scandal put an end to any political goodwill she might have earned, eventually leading to her ouster.
A statement from the spokesman for Ban Ki-moon said the UN Secretary-General had “taken note” of the impeachment process and Temer’s swearing in.
“The Secretary-General extends his best wishes to President Temer as he begins his tenure,” the statement said. “He trusts that under President Temer’s leadership, Brazil and the United Nations will continue their traditional close partnership.”