Impeachment – Definition, what it is and concept

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The impeachment, or also called the impeachment process, is an act by which a determined high political position is dismissed and is characteristic of presidential regimes. The process must begin when there are accusations of criminal evidence.

The impeachment is a political trial that seeks to revoke a high political office when he has committed a crime, or there is evidence of it. The best-known cases are when the Impeachment is presented against the presidents of the republic, they are the most media cases. As a general rule, when the President is subject to political trial, it must be for serious crimes.

Although the process is similar in all the countries that contemplate it, the Constitutions of each country make them have their own particularities. The analogous procedure in parliamentary regimes is the motion of censure.

Impeachment procedure

As we mentioned earlier, the process is subject to the rules set forth in each Constitution, therefore it varies between countries. A fairly generic procedure is as follows:

  1. The Chamber of Deputies, by absolute majority, approves the start of the procedure. With the approval of one of the charges attributed to the accused, the procedure begins.
  2. If the start of the procedure is approved, it passes to the Senate, the senators themselves being the judges of the case. While the prosecution lasts, the defendant is removed from his duties (in some countries). If the President of the Republic is the accused, it will be the vice president who takes over.
  3. If the Senate convicts him, by a two-thirds majority, the accused will be removed from his duties.

Relevant cases

As we have said before, the most relevant impeachments are those that are made against the President of the Republic and are quite rare. Here are three processes carried out in recent years.

  • Dilma Rousseff, Brazil. The process began in December 2015. The former president was accused of violations against the law budgetary and against the law of administrative probity. It was declared guilty with the vote in favour of 61 senators, compared to 30 who voted in against.
  • Bill Clinton, USA Process started in December 1998. The American president was assigned two charges, perjury and obstruction of justice. He was finally acquitted with the vote conviction of 50 senators and 45 against (67 was needed in favour of the sentence).
  • Donald Trump, USA The process starts in September 2019. The charges Trump’s faces are: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in its investigative work. Currently, the process is it is in full development.