President Dilma Rousseff will be suspended from office for up to six months after the Brazilian Senate voted in favour of an impeachment trial.
Vice-president Michel Temer will today formally take office as interim head of state.
In a trial that could last up to 180 days, the Senate will now investigate whether Rousseff is guilty of manipulating fiscal accounts in the run up to her re-election in 2014.
After a 20 hour session, the impeachment was supported by 55 senators, while 22 opposed the motion. Many of those who supported the impeachment cited the country’s economic crisis.
“Impeachment is a tragedy for the country. It is a bitter though necessary medicine,” said opposition senator Jose Serra. “But having the Rousseff administration continue would be a bigger tragedy. Brazil’s situation would be unbearable.”
Meanwhile, the president and her supporters continued to call the process a ‘coup’ against a democratically elected leader. The leader of Rousseff’s PT party in the Senate, Humberto Costa, said: “The Brazilian elite, the ruling class, which keeps treating this county as if it was their hereditary dominion, does not appreciate democracy”.
Earlier in the day, Rousseff had a last-minute appeal to delay the vote rejected by the Supreme Court.
The vote marked another milestone in another chaotic week for Brazilian politics.
Last week, the head of the lower house Eduardo Cunha, who led the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff and is third in the presidential succession line, was suspended for allegedly obstructing justice.
On Monday, the interim head of the Lower House, Waldir Maranhão declared that the April vote to impeach Rousseff should be annulled, only to revoke his own decision later that day after the Senate decided to continue with proceedings.
Temer, who in recent weeks has been preparing a cabinet, also faces an impeachment threat for the same allegations as Rousseff.
Meanwhile, around half of Brazilian legislators and senators have been linked to corruption cases or other criminal investigations.
Temer must now navigate a divided country – yesterday saw more street protests both in favour of and against Rousseff’s impeachment – through a historic economic crisis.
Though polls show he has a low approval rating and that a majority of Brazilians favour fresh elections, Temer has so far ruled out the possibility of a snap vote.