UPDATE: 7:55 p.m. EDT — Supporters of the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff took a commanding lead in a ballot in the lower house of Congress on Sunday that could hasten the end of 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule in Latin America's biggest economy, Reuters reported.
With 272 votes cast, 210 members of Congress had voted in favor of Rousseff's impeachment and 62 voted against or abstained. The Datafolha polling group projected Rousseff's defeat.
UPDATE: 6 p.m. EDT — With 100 votes cast, 73 congressmen voted in favor of Rousseff's impeachment and 27 voted against or abstained, Reuters reported.
The opposition needs votes from 342 out of the 513 congressmen to force Rousseff to face an impeachment trial in the Senate on charges of manipulating budgetary accounts to support her 2014 re-election.
Brazilian lawmakers opened the session to discuss President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment Sunday, as rival protests both in support and against the embattled leader took place across the capital Brasilia. Rousseff stands accused of hiding the size of the national deficit during her re-election campaign in 2014, but allegations that she helped hatch as massive embezzlement scheme while serving as the head of state-owned oil company Petrobras have fueled support for her impeachment.
The lower house of Brazilian Congress began voting Sunday, and if the majority votes in favor, the Senate will begin an impeachment trial. Brazilian citizens are deeply divided on the issue, and passionate demonstrations brought thousands of people into the streets both in support of and against Rousseff.
"If impeachment is not approved, it will go on like this, stalled," one unemployed 58 year-old woman told Agence-France Presse at a demonstration Sunday, adding, "Dilma's exit is a first step for the country to move forward."
The controversy comes as an ongoing recession threatens to shrink South America’s largest economy by nearly 3 percent by the end of the year, according to Bloomberg. While many families have credited the welfare programs of Rousseff’s Worker’s Party with lifting them out of poverty in the past decade, wealth disparity has grown more apparent in the run-up to hosting the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer, as authorities attempt to clear the streets of the city’s slums before the games.
Rousseff has vowed she has not done anything that her predecessors had not also done, saying the impeachment process is a scheme devised by her political rivals. “They want to convict an innocent woman and save the corrupt. ... Would those leading the coup allow the fight against corruption to continue? What's their legitimacy?” asked Rousseff in an op-ed she wrote for the Folha de São Paulo published last week.