Brazil’s president scrambles to hold coalition together

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Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday that he believes Rousseff, his embattled successor and protege, can survive mounting pressure in Congress for her impeachment.

The centrist Brazilian Party for Democratic Movement (PMDB), which had governed with the ruling Workers’ Party since 2003, quit the coalition just three minutes into a party meeting, saying it would withdraw its six remaining ministers from the government. This would mean that the leader of the PMDB, current Vice President Michel Temer, would take her place. Rousseff, a former chairman of Petrobras’ board, has not been implicated in the unfolding scandal at the oil company, which prosecutors say is the largest corruption scheme ever uncovered in Brazil.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Wednesday she was the victim of a coup as her allies horse-traded frantically for enough votes to ride out an impeachment drive.
“It is a party tainted with corruption, and the government of President Dilma Rousseff also has this stain of corruption and lies”.
The potentially lengthy process is under way in a preliminary commission and the lower house of Congress could vote as early as mid-April on whether to send the case to the Senate for full trial.
Their unease has been compounded by calls for Ms Rousseff’s impeachment and a widening corruption scandal involving senior members in the Workers’ Party.
Speaking at an event for the government’s public housing program, Rousseff again lashed out at the impeachment process as an attempted “coup”.
Temer aides said he was ready to lead Brazil with policies restoring business confidence.
Mr Eliseu Padilha, a high-ranking PMDB member who served as minister of civil aviation in Ms Rous- seff’s government, predicted that Ms Rousseff had only weeks left.
Only 10 percent of Brazilians have a favorable opinion of Rousseff.
Her standing also has been hurt by Brazilian anger that the country has sunk into its worst recession in decades, which has put people out of work and is cutting into tax revenues.
“This really sets into motion a whole new phase in this impeachment process with Dilma Rousseff now facing an even higher and harder uphill battle to try and save her presidency”.
But she canceled a trip to the United States, the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported.
The PMDB’s vote to exit Rousseff’s administration was largely expected.
“If you look at the numbers, that’s basically it”, said Everaldo Moraes, a political science professor at Brasilia National University.
The exit of the PMDB could make it hard for Ms. Rousseff to garner the support needed to derail impeachment proceedings now speeding through Brazil’sCongress.