‘For All Insurance Brokers,’ ‘For Peace in Jerusalem,’ and Other Odd Reasons Brazilian Lawmakers Voted to Impeach Their President

Almost no one mentioned the actual charges against Rousseff.

Supporters of the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff follow on big screens in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as lawmakers get close to be votes needed to authorize her impeachment to go ahead, on April 17, 2016.
Brazilian lawmakers on Sunday reached the two thirds majority necessary to authorize impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. The lower house vote sends Rousseff's case to the Senate, which can vote to open a trial. A two thirds majority in the upper house would eject her from office. Rousseff, whose approval rating has plunged to a dismal 10 percent, faces charges of embellishing public accounts to mask the budget deficit during her 2014 reelection.
 / AFP / TASSO MARCELO        (Photo credit should read TASSO MARCELO/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff follow on big screens in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as lawmakers get close to be votes needed to authorize her impeachment to go ahead, on April 17, 2016. Brazilian lawmakers on Sunday reached the two thirds majority necessary to authorize impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. The lower house vote sends Rousseff's case to the Senate, which can vote to open a trial. A two thirds majority in the upper house would eject her from office. Rousseff, whose approval rating has plunged to a dismal 10 percent, faces charges of embellishing public accounts to mask the budget deficit during her 2014 reelection. / AFP / TASSO MARCELO (Photo credit should read TASSO MARCELO/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff follow on big screens in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as lawmakers get close to be votes needed to authorize her impeachment to go ahead, on April 17, 2016. Brazilian lawmakers on Sunday reached the two thirds majority necessary to authorize impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. The lower house vote sends Rousseff's case to the Senate, which can vote to open a trial. A two thirds majority in the upper house would eject her from office. Rousseff, whose approval rating has plunged to a dismal 10 percent, faces charges of embellishing public accounts to mask the budget deficit during her 2014 reelection. / AFP / TASSO MARCELO (Photo credit should read TASSO MARCELO/AFP/Getty Images)

Late Sunday, Brazil’s lower house of Congress overwhelmingly voted to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

As the vote unfolded, each of the more than 500 lawmakers had a chance to explain his or her reasoning. Everyone spoke, but almost no one mentioned the actual charges against Rousseff: that she manipulated government accounts to make a budget surplus seem bigger than it actually was in order to get re-elected.

Instead, they cited a host of reasons for their votes against the president, many of them eccentric, some downright inexplicable, and nearly all irrelevant to the legal question at hand. One congressman, from the Amazonian state of Pará, fired a confetti cannon into the air after voting to impeach — an explanation that transcended language.

Late Sunday, Brazil’s lower house of Congress overwhelmingly voted to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

As the vote unfolded, each of the more than 500 lawmakers had a chance to explain his or her reasoning. Everyone spoke, but almost no one mentioned the actual charges against Rousseff: that she manipulated government accounts to make a budget surplus seem bigger than it actually was in order to get re-elected.

Instead, they cited a host of reasons for their votes against the president, many of them eccentric, some downright inexplicable, and nearly all irrelevant to the legal question at hand. One congressman, from the Amazonian state of Pará, fired a confetti cannon into the air after voting to impeach — an explanation that transcended language.

Here are some of the reasons Brazilian deputies cited for casting their votes, as recorded by reporters and other observers on Twitter and in the Brazilian media.

— For my granddaughter’s birthday

— For the foundations of Christianity

— For the masons of Brazil

— For Curitiba [a city in southern Brazil]

— In memory of my father

— For the communism haunting the country

— For the fearless people and pioneers of the state of Rondônia

— For BR 429 [a highway]

— For all insurance brokers

— In honor of the birthday of my city

— For peace in Jerusalem

— For the best state, Tocantins

— For the military in ’64 [the year the military overthrew the government in a U.S.-supported coup]

— For the blessings of the great Architect of the Universe

— So as not to be as red as Venezuela and North Korea

— In the name of my daughter, who, together with my wife [and I], form the Brazilian family, which the bandits want so much to destroy with the proposal that children change sexes and learn sex in schools at the age of 6

As the deputies made their speeches, each one more irrelevant than the next to the question at hand, their responses spread rapidly on social media.

Some lawmakers who voted on Sunday seemed not to understand what they were actually supposed to be adjudicating. Many who voted to impeach were Rousseff’s former coalition partners, who defected recently as her ship began to sink amid widespread corruption scandals. About 60 percent of the deputies face their own charges, many of them serious, for crimes including bribery, election fraud, illegal deforestation, kidnapping, and homicide.

As the real remarks spread, parodies began to spread as well.

One former deputy tweeted a pie chart of the various motives that speakers had cited.

A few deputies did cite the charges against Rousseff — but not many.

Globe and Mail correspondent Stephanie Nolen kept count. Only seven out of more than 500 mentioned the budget violations at all.

A handful held up misogynistic signs that read “tchau querida,” or “bye dear.”

Some experts warned that the off-topic remarks indicated a deeper issue with the impeachment. “This will set a very dangerous precedent for democracy in Brazil, because from now on, any moment that we have a highly unpopular president, there will be pressure to start an impeachment process,” Lincoln Secco, a professor of history at the University of São Paulo, told the New York Times.

Most of the legislators strayed from discussing the charges. A few strayed from human decency.

Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal personality on the far right, dedicated his vote to Col. Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, who was convicted of perpetrating torture for the military dictatorship. During Rousseff’s days as a Marxist guerrilla, she faced torture by the regime. Congressman Jean Wyllys, a leftist, then spit on Bolsonaro.

Photo credit: TASSO MARCELO/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter: @bsoloway

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