Brazil corruption scandal threatens split in Rousseff coalition
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA, March 10 (Reuters) - A widening corruption probe has turned key lawmakers from Brazil's largest party against leftist President Dilma Rousseff, threatening to split her coalition and increasing chances of her impeachment in Congress this year.
The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, known as the PMDB, is the main ally of the ruling Workers' Party. Its leader, Michel Temer, is Rousseff's vice president.
But a growing number of legislators from the fractious party, which accommodates centrist and center-right politicians, say it is time to abandon a president they see as paralyzed by political gridlock and unable to lead Brazil out of an intense economic recession.
"This is a very delicate moment," said the party's vice-president, Senator Valdir Raupp, who no longer wants to support Rousseff's coalition. "The country needs a change of course now."
What little patience some PMDB lawmakers still had for the coalition has frayed amid an investigation into the ruling party's founder, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and new allegations money from a far-reaching corruption scandal helped fund Rousseff's 2014 re-election.
At its biennial convention Saturday, the PMDB will loosen its alliance with the administration, which has been roiled by the ongoing kickback scandal around state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
While avoiding an outright break with Rousseff, PMDB officials say they will vote on measures intended to give individual party lawmakers more freedom to rebel against Rousseff initiatives and ultimately vote in favor of ousting the president, who faces impeachment proceedings because of accounting irregularities in the government budget.
Raupp said the party's more anti-Rousseff factions will table a motion to leave the coalition outright, but a second motion to declare independence from the government will most likely prevail. Continuación...