Further regarding the impeachment and possible removal of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff…
There is now a constitutional amendment being proposed by some senators that would result in an early election for president and vice president in October this year, rather than having the current VP take over in event of removal of the incumbent president.
In principle, I don’t like procedures that allow a VP to assume office following impeachment (resignation, death, etc.)–even less when it is common for the VP to be from a coalition partner (or former one, in current Brazilian case.) In fact, I’d say don’t even have a VP; I prefer early elections, although I can imagine that option creating some perverse incentives of its own. However, altering the constitution in the midst of an impeachment process doesn’t seem like a good idea.
The proposal is to have early presidential/VP elections this October. The sponsors have not decided whether this would be for would be for two years (the remainder of the current term) or a full four-year new term. If the latter, Brazil would go back to non concurrent elections, which would be an especially bad idea.
The possibility of early elections is already raised by the Brazilian constitution, however, although only in the unlikely event that the offices of both the president and the vice president are vacant:
Article 81. In the event of vacancy of the offices of President and Vice-President of the republic, elections shall be held ninety days after the occurrence of the last vacancy.
Paragraph 1. If the vacancy occurs during the last two years of the President’s term of office, the National Congress shall hold elections for both of ces thirty days after the last vacancy, as established by law.
Paragraph 2. In any of the cases, those elected shall complete the term of office of their predecessors.
Note that if this provision were ever in force, the president would be elected for only the remainder of the current term, thus restoring concurrent elections at the next election. However, the proposed constitutional amendment evidently could end up calling for four year terms, starting in 2016, whereas congress is elected every four years, with the next one being 2018.
I have no idea if the amendment stands any chance of passage. It takes just 3/5 votes of both chambers to amend the constitution. Ratification by states or voters is not required.
There is yet another way an early election could be called: by the Superior Electoral Court. In a separate (as far as I know) case, there is an investigation into election irregularities from the 2014 reelection of Rousseff.
Via Inter-Press Services:
If the 2014 elections outcome is challenged, new elections will be held. But experts believe that this ruling will not come until 2017, and in that case it would be Congress that would elect the new president and vice president who would complete the current term until 2018.
I find it quite extraordinary that the electoral tribunal could invalidate an election halfway–or even later–through the elected incumbent’s term.