SAO PAULO, Brazil – Only a miracle can save recession-hit Brazil's suspended president Dilma Rousseff from being sacked for good now that senators have voted to open an impeachment trial, analysts say.
The scandal is expected to end 13 years of leftist rule in Latin America's biggest economy, currently rocked by economic and political instability as it hosts the Olympic Games.
The Senate voted early Wednesday, August 10, to try Rousseff, 68, over accusations that she broke public finance rules and fiddled the state accounts.
The trial is set to open around August 25 – 4 days after the Olympics end – with a judgment vote 5 days later. If two-thirds of the senators vote against her, she will be out.
"The truth is, Dilma would need a miracle for that not to happen," said political analyst Everaldo Moraes from Brasilia University.
"The biggest surprise would be if she managed to turn the process around," he told the Agence France-Presse.
"Even her own allies can see that. They know the process has become irreversible."
Rousseff, 68, has called the impeachment drive tantamount to a coup by her political enemies.
Reversal of fortune
Brazil was booming under former Rousseff's ally and predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2009, when it won the right to host this year's Games.
Now it is deep in recession. Lula too faces court action for allegedly obstructing corruption investigations that have engulfed numerous politicians.
Rousseff's rival and interim successor Michel Temer is fighting to steer the country out of crisis, but is unpopular. He was booed at the opening ceremony of the Games.
Rousseff herself is not accused in Brazil's main scandal, the probe into corruption in the state oil firm Petrobras, which has implicated many of her rivals.
Instead she is accused of manipulating the public accounts to hide the size of Brazil's deficit while she was running for re-election.
But she has been tainted by the Petrobras stain on her Workers' Party, which is accused of lining its coffers with some of the missing billions.
Her political rivals turned on her over recent months.
Their leaders included Temer, formerly Rousseff's vice president and head of the center-right PMDB party in her governing coalition.
"She made every kind of mistake that a president can make," said Sergio Praca, an analyst at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.
"She failed to keep her campaign promises, didn't pay enough attention to her coalition, ignored her own party and didn't listen to anyone."
Lula and Rousseff were among the most prominent in a wave of leftist leaders with generous social welfare policies that dominated Latin American politics over the past two decades.
As in Argentina and other countries, that tide appears to have turned in Brazil.
"There is no reversing this. The left will have to endure the blow," said Eduardo Pereira, 51, a teacher, referring to the impeachment.
He spoke as he joined in a demonstration against Temer in Sao Paulo on Tuesday.
"But it also has to look to the future to seek new approaches, to organize and adapt," he said. "That includes taking a critical look at themselves over the corruption cases."
If Rousseff is impeached, Temer will see out the remainder of the current presidential term to 2018.
Rousseff has said she plans to publish in the coming days a "letter to the Brazilian people."
In it she will promise them the right to choose whether to hold new elections if she survives the impeachment vote.
That idea was not expected to be popular among Brazilians tired of political upheaval.
"It does not even look like her party will support it," said the analyst Praca.
"It is almost impossible for Rousseff to bounce back, and I think she knows it." – Rappler.com