Speed Reads

Brazil at the brink

Brazil's presidential impeachment fight thrown into turmoil as key vote declared void

On Monday, Brazil's new speaker of the lower house of Congress unilaterally annulled a vote that had sent impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff to the Senate, throwing an already complicated struggle for power into greater chaos. The speaker, Waldir Maranhão, rose from obscurity to lead the Chamber of Deputies just last week after his processor and ally, Eduardo Cunha, was ordered by the Supreme Court to resign to face trial on graft charges. Cunha had overseen the effort to impeach Rousseff over allegations she manipulated Brazil's financial picture to bolster her re-election campaign.

The leaders of the Senate and Senate impeachment committee said they would ignore Maranhão's decision to hold a new impeachment vote in the lower house, due to apparent irregularities in the voting. Both sides are appealing to the Supreme Court, which signed off on the Chamber of Deputies' earlier vote. If the Senate votes to put Rousseff on trial on Wednesday, as expected, and that passes legal muster, Rousseff will have to step down, and her vice president, Michel Temer, will take over during the trial, then permanently if Rousseff is convicted. Maranhão is implicated in the same bribery scandal that brought down Cunha, and everybody seems confused.

"Friends, I have a doctorate in this business, but I don't have the faintest idea about what's going on," prominent political scientist Mauricio Santoro wrote on Facebook. You can learn more about Brazil's ill-timed political chaos in the video below. Peter Weber