Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s grip on power was slipping today after more allies abandoned her in the fight against an impeachment drive which she has branded a coup.
The 68-year-old leader moved closer to being driven from office in a political and economic crisis rocking Latin America’s biggest country less than four months before it hosts the Olympic Games.
However, Rousseff vowed today that she will “fight to the last minute” against efforts to impeach her, despite key allies deserting her as she clings to office.
“I will fight to the last minute of the second half,” she said, employing a football metaphor, in an interview published by several media ahead of a crucial vote on impeachment proceedings in congress on Sunday.
With pressure rising after two blocs in Rousseff’s ruling coalition announced they would vote to impeach her, she canceled her appearance at a ceremony to light the Olympic flame today.
Yesterday’s defections swelled the number of lawmakers likely to back a motion against her when the lower house of congress votes Sunday on whether an impeachment trial should be launched.
Polls published in the Brazilian media indicate opposition parties are closing in on securing the 342 votes needed to approve the impeachment motion and send it to the Senate for a further vote.
Leading newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo today calculated that the number of lawmakers who have now decided to support impeachment has risen to 302 -- but dozens have yet to state a position.
Analysts say the desertion yesterday of two of Rousseff’s key allies, the PP and PRB parties which have 69 lawmakers between them, could prompt a stampede.
“If all the medium-sized parties abandon her, Rousseff will have no way to survive impeachment,” said political scientist David Fleischer of Brasilia University.
One of Rousseff’s last remaining coalition allies, the PSD party with 36 votes, called a meeting in Brasilia today to decide on its position.
Another party, the PR, was scheduled to meet tomorrow. It has 40 seats. Between them, the two parties could swing the vote against Rousseff in the 513-seat Congress.
Rousseff is in the final stretch of a bruising attempt to save her presidency over charges that she illegally manipulated government accounts to mask the effects of recession during her 2014 re-election.