In a far-reaching and complex decision announced Thursday night, the Brazilian Supreme Court cleared the way for possible congressional impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff but with strings attached that could aid the chief executive. In a slew of split decisions, the 11-member court said Chamber of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha acted properly in initiating impeachment proceedings against the President. However, the court struck down the December 8 election of a 65-member special congressional committee to investigate the chief executive. The court said creation of the panel was tainted because of voting by secret ballot. Any and all votes related to impeachment should be by roll call, the court said. Opposition parties won control of the committee in the December 8 vote but may lose it in an open vote, according to political risk analysts. In another decision that may aid the President, the court on Thursday gave the Senate powers to accept or shelve an eventual impeachment resolution brought to it by the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate can shelve the motion by simple majority, thus mooting a lengthy trial and allowing the President to remain in office without a period of leave-of-absence. According to political risk analysts, Rousseff’s political clout is greater in the Senate than in the lower house.
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