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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South Korean President Park Geun-hye were both impeached and removed from office.

Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body levels charges against a government official. It does not mean removal from office; it is only a statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law. Once an individual is impeached, he or she must then face the possibility of conviction by a legislative vote, which judgment entails removal from office.

Because impeachment and conviction of officials involve an overturning of the normal constitutional procedures by which individuals achieve high office (election, ratification, or appointment) and because it generally requires a supermajority, they are usually reserved for those deemed to have committed serious abuses of their office. In the United States, for example, impeachment at the federal level is limited to those who may have committed "Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors[1]".[2]

Impeachment exists under constitutional law in many countries around the world, including Brazil, the Republic of Ireland, India, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, France and the United States.

Etymology and historyEdit

The word "impeachment" derives from Old French empeechier from Latin word impedīre expressing the idea of catching or ensnaring by the 'foot' (pes, pedis), and has analogues in the modern French verb empêcher (to prevent) and the modern English impede. Medieval popular etymology also associated it (wrongly) with derivations from the Latin impetere (to attack). (In its more frequent and more technical usage, impeachment of a witness means challenging the honesty or credibility of that person.)

Beyond ancient Greek and Roman political systems, impeachment was first used in England.[citation needed] Specifically, the process was first used by the English "Good Parliament" against Baron Latimer in the second half of the 14th century. Following the British example, the constitutions of Virginia (1776), Massachusetts (1780) and other states thereafter adopted the impeachment mechanism, but they restricted the punishment to removal of the official from office. As well, in private organizations, a motion to impeach can be used to prefer charges.[3]

In various jurisdictionsEdit

AustriaEdit

The Austrian Federal President can be impeached by the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) before the Constitutional Court. The constitution also provides for the recall of the president by a referendum. Neither of these courses has ever been taken. This is likely because while the President is vested with considerable powers on paper, they act as a largely ceremonial figurehead in practice, and are thus hardly in a position to abuse their powers.

BrazilEdit

The President of the Federative Republic of Brazil may be impeached by the Chamber of Deputies and tried and removed from office by the Federal Senate. State governors and municipal mayors can also be impeached, tried and removed by the respective legislative bodies. Upon conviction, the officeholder has his political rights revoked for eight years—which has the effect of barring him from running for any office.

Fernando Collor de Mello, the 32nd President of Brazil, resigned in 1992 amidst impeachment proceedings. Despite his resignation, the Senate nonetheless voted to convict him and bar him from holding any office for eight years, due to evidence of bribery and misappropriation.

In 2016, the Chamber of Deputies initiated an impeachment case against President Dilma Rousseff on allegations of budgetary mismanagement.[4] Following her conviction, she was replaced by Vice President Michel Temer, who had served as acting president while Rousseff's case was pending.[5]

BulgariaEdit

The President of Bulgaria can be removed only for high treason or violation of the constitution. The process is started by a two-thirds majority vote of the Parliament to impeach the President, whereupon the Constitutional Court decides whether the President is guilty of the crime of which he is charged. If he is found guilty, he is removed from power. No Bulgarian President has ever been impeached. The same procedure can be used to remove the Vice President of Bulgaria, which has also never happened.

CroatiaEdit

The process of impeaching the President of Croatia can be initiated by a two-thirds majority vote in favor in the Sabor and is thereafter referred to the Constitutional Court, which must accept such a proposal with a two-thirds majority vote in favor in order for the president to be removed from office. This has never occurred in the history of the Republic of Croatia. In case of a successful impeachment motion a president's constitutional term of five years would be terminated and an election called within 60 days of the vacancy occurring. During the period of vacancy the presidential powers and duties would be carried out by the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament in his/her capacity as Acting President of the Republic.[6]

Czech RepublicEdit

Prior to 2013 the President of the Czech Republic could be impeached only for an act of high treason (which is not defined in the Constitution of the Czech Republic itself). The process has to start in the Senate of the Czech Republic which only has the right to impeach the president, this passes the case to the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic which has to decide whether the President is guilty or not. If the Court decides that the President is guilty then the President loses his office and the ability to be elected President of the Czech Republic ever again.[7] No Czech president has ever been impeached, though members of the Senate sought to impeach President Vaclav Klaus in 2013.[8] This case was dismissed by the court reasoning that his mandate has expired.[9]

In 2013 the constitution changed; now the process can be started by at least three-fifths of present senators and must be approved by at least three-fifths of all members of Parliament. Also, the President can be impeached not only for high treason (newly defined in the Constitution) but also for a serious infringement of the Constitution.[10]

FranceEdit

The President of France can be impeached by the French Parliament for willfully violating the Constitution or the national laws. The process of impeachment is written in the 68th article of the French Constitution.[11] A group of senators or a group of members of the National Assembly can begin the process. Then, Both the French National Assembly and the French Senate have to acknowledge the impeachment. After the upper house and the lower house's agreement, both the two houses unite to form the High Court. Finally, the High Court must decide to declare the impeachment of the President of France or not.

GermanyEdit

The Federal President of Germany can be impeached both by the Bundestag and by the Bundesrat for willfully violating Federal law. Once the Bundestag or the Bundesrat impeaches the president, the Federal Constitutional Court decides whether the President is guilty as charged and, if this is the case, whether to remove him or her from office. The Federal Constitutional Court also has the power to remove federal judges from office for willfully violating core principles of the federal constitution or a state constitution. The impeachment procedure is regulated in Article 61 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany.

Hong KongEdit

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong can be impeached by the Legislative Council. A motion for investigation, initiated jointly by at least one-fourth of all the legislators charging the Chief Executive with "serious breach of law or dereliction of duty" and refusing to resign, shall first be passed by the Council. An independent investigation committee, chaired by the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, will then carry out the investigation and report back to the Council. If the Council find the evidence sufficient to substantiate the charges, it may pass a motion of impeachment by a two-thirds majority.[12]:Article 73(9)

However, the Legislative Council does not have the power actually to remove the Chief Executive from office, as the Chief Executive is appointed by the Central People's Government. The Council can only report the result to the Central People's Government for its decision.[12]:Article 45

IndiaEdit

The president and judges, including the chief justice of the supreme court and high courts, can be impeached by the parliament before the expiry of the term for violation of the Constitution. Other than impeachment, no other penalty can be given to a president in position for the violation of the Constitution under Article 361 of the constitution. However a president after his term/removal can be punished for his already proven unlawful activity under disrespecting the constitution, etc.[13] No president has faced impeachment proceedings. Hence, the provisions for impeachment have never been tested. The sitting president cannot be charged and needs to step down in order for that to happen.

IranEdit

The Assembly of Experts can impeach the Supreme Leader of Iran and appoint a new one.

The President of Iran can be impeached jointly by the members of the Assembly (Majlis) and the Supreme Leader. A new presidential election is then triggered. Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran's first president, was impeached in June 1981 and removed from the office. Mohammad-Ali Rajai was elected as the new president.

Cabinet ministers can be impeached by the members of the Assembly. Presidential appointment of a new minister is subject to a parliamentary vote of confidence. Impeachment of ministers has been a fairly commonly used tactic in the power struggle between the president and the assembly during the last several governments.

IrelandEdit

In the Republic of Ireland formal impeachment only applies to the Irish president. Article 12 of the Irish Constitution provides that, unless judged to be "permanently incapacitated" by the Supreme Court, the president can only be removed from office by the houses of the Oireachtas (parliament) and only for the commission of "stated misbehaviour". Either house of the Oireachtas may impeach the president, but only by a resolution approved by a majority of at least two-thirds of its total number of members; and a house may not consider a proposal for impeachment unless requested to do so by at least thirty of its number.

Where one house impeaches the president, the remaining house either investigates the charge or commissions another body or committee to do so. The investigating house can remove the president if it decides, by at least a two-thirds majority of its members, both that the president is guilty of the charge, and that the charge is sufficiently serious as to warrant the president's removal. To date no impeachment of an Irish president has ever taken place. The president holds a largely ceremonial office, the dignity of which is considered important, so it is likely that a president would resign from office long before undergoing formal conviction or impeachment.

The Republic's Constitution and law also provide that only a joint resolution of both houses of the Oireachtas may remove a judge. Although often referred to as the "impeachment" of a judge, this procedure does not technically involve impeachment.[14]

ItalyEdit

In Italy, according to Article 90 of the Constitution, the President of the Republic can be impeached through a majority vote of the Parliament in joint session for high treason and for attempting to overthrow the Constitution. If impeached, the President of the Republic is then tried by the Constitutional Court integrated with sixteen citizens older than forty chosen by lot from a list compiled by the Parliament every nine years.

Italian press and political forces made use of the term "impeachment" for the attempt by some members of parliamentary opposition to initiate the procedure provided for in Article 90 against Presidents Francesco Cossiga (1991),[15][better source needed] Giorgio Napolitano (2014)[16][better source needed] and Sergio Mattarella (2018).[17][better source needed]

LiechtensteinEdit

Members of the Liechtenstein Government can be impeached before the State Court for breaches of the Constitution or of other laws.[18]:Article 62 As a hereditary monarchy the Sovereign Prince can not be impeached as he "is not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts and does not have legal responsibility".[18]:Article 7 The same is true of any member of the Princely House who exercises the function of head of state should the Prince be temporarily prevented or in preparation for the Succession.[18]:Article 7

LithuaniaEdit

In the Republic of Lithuania, the President may be impeached by a three-fifths majority in the Seimas.[19] President Rolandas Paksas was removed from office by impeachment on April 6, 2004 after the Constitutional Court of Lithuania found him guilty of having violated his oath and the constitution. He was the first European head of state to have been impeached.[20]

NorwayEdit

Members of government, representatives of the national assembly (Stortinget) and Supreme Court judges can be impeached for criminal offenses tied to their duties and committed in office, according to the Constitution of 1814, §§ 86 and 87. The procedural rules were modeled after the US rules and are quite similar to them. Impeachment has been used eight times since 1814, last in 1927. Many argue that impeachment has fallen into desuetude. In cases of impeachment, an appointed court (Riksrett) takes effect.

PakistanEdit

The country's ruling coalition said on August 7, 2008, that it would seek the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, alleging the U.S.-backed former general had "eroded the trust of the nation" and increasing pressure on him to resign. He resigned on August 18, 2008. Another kind of impeachment in Pakistan is known as the vote of less-confidence or vote of mis-understanding and has been practiced by provincial assemblies to weaken the national assembly.

Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority support of lawmakers in a joint session of both houses of Parliament.

PhilippinesEdit

Impeachment in the Philippines follows procedures similar to the United States. Under Sections 2 and 3, Article XI, Constitution of the Philippines, the House of Representatives of the Philippines has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment against the President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional Commissions (Commission on Elections, Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Audit), and the Ombudsman. When a third of its membership has endorsed the impeachment articles, it is then transmitted to the Senate of the Philippines which tries and decide, as impeachment tribunal, the impeachment case.[21]

A main difference from US proceedings however is that only one third of House members are required to approve the motion to impeach the President (as opposed to a simple majority of those present and voting in their US counterpart). In the Senate, selected members of the House of Representatives act as the prosecutors and the Senators act as judges with the Senate President presiding over the proceedings (the Chief Justice jointly presides with the Senate President if the President is on trial). Like the United States, to convict the official in question requires that a minimum of two thirds (i.e. 16 of 24 members) of all the Members of the Senate vote in favor of conviction. If an impeachment attempt is unsuccessful or the official is acquitted, no new cases can be filed against that impeachable official for at least one full year.

Impeachable offenses and officialsEdit

The 1987 Philippine Constitution says the grounds for impeachment include culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust. These offenses are considered "high crimes and misdemeanors" under the Philippine Constitution.

The President, Vice President, Supreme Court justices, and members of the Constitutional Commission and Ombudsman are all considered impeachable officials under the Constitution.

Impeachment proceedings and attemptsEdit

President Joseph Estrada was the first official impeached by the House in 2000, but the trial ended prematurely due to outrage over a vote to open an envelope where that motion was narrowly defeated by his allies. Estrada was deposed days later during the 2001 EDSA Revolution.

In 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, impeachment complaints were filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but none of the cases reached the required endorsement of ​13 of the members for transmittal to, and trial by, the Senate.

In March 2011, the House of Representatives impeached Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, becoming the second person to be impeached. In April, Gutierrez resigned prior to the Senate's convening as an impeachment court.

In December 2011, in what was described as "blitzkrieg fashion", 188 of the 285 members of the House of Representatives voted to transmit the 56-page Articles of Impeachment against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

To date, three officials had been successfully impeached by the House of Representatives, and two were not convicted. The latter, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, was convicted on May 29, 2012 by the Senate under Article II of the Articles of Impeachment (for betraying public trust), with 20–3 votes from the Senator Judges.

PeruEdit

 
Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski speaks about the impeachment process against him.

PolandEdit

In Polish law there is no impeachment procedure defined, as it is present in the other countries. Infringements of the law can be investigated only by special Parliament's Committee or (if accusations involve people holding the highest offices of state) by the State Tribunal. The State Tribunal is empowered to rule for the removal of individuals from public office but it is not a common practice.

RomaniaEdit

The President can be impeached by Parliament and is then suspended. A referendum then follows to determine whether the suspended President should be removed from office. President Traian Băsescu was impeached twice by the Parliament: in 2007 and more recently in July 2012. A referendum was held on May 19, 2007 and a large majority of the electorate voted against removing the president from office. For the most recent suspension a referendum was held on July 29, 2012; the results were heavily against the president, but the referendum was invalidated due to low turnout.[22][circular reference]

RussiaEdit

The President of Russia can be impeached if both the State Duma (which initiates the impeachment process through the formation of a special investigation committee) and the Federation Council of Russia vote by a two-thirds majority in favor of impeachment and, additionally, the Supreme Court finds the President guilty of treason or a similarly heavy crime against the nation and the Constitutional Court confirms that the constitutional procedure of the impeachment process was correctly observed. In 1995–1999, the Duma made several attempts to impeach then-President Boris Yeltsin, but they never had a sufficient number of votes for the process to reach the Federation Council.

South Korea (Republic of Korea)Edit

According to the Article 65 Clause 1 of Constitution of South Korea, if President, Prime Minister, or other state council members including Supreme Court and Constitutional court members, violate the Constitution or other laws of official duty, the National Assembly can impeach them. Clause 2 states the impeachment bill may be proposed by one third or more of the total members of the National Assembly, and shall require majority voting and approved by two thirds or more of the total members of the National Assembly. This article also states that any person against whom a motion for impeachment has been passed shall be suspended from exercising his power until the impeachment has been adjudicated and shall not extend further than removal from public office. Provided, That it shall not exempt the person impeached from civil or criminal liability.

Two presidents have been impeached since the foundation of the Sixth Republic of Korea and adoption of the new Constitution of South Korea in 1987. Roh Moo-hyun in 2004 was impeached by the National Assembly but was overturned by the Constitutional Court. Park Geun-hye in 2016 was impeached by the National Assembly, and the impeachment was confirmed by the Constitutional Court on March 10, 2017.

TaiwanEdit

In Taiwan, according to the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China, impeachment of the president or the vice president by the Legislative Yuan shall be initiated upon the proposal of more than one-half of the total members of the Legislative Yuan and passed by more than two-thirds of the total members of the Legislative Yuan, whereupon it shall be presented to the grand justices of the Judicial Yuan for adjudication.

TurkeyEdit

In Turkey, according to the Constitution, the Grand National Assembly may initiate an investigation of the President, the Vice President or any member of the Cabinet upon the proposal of simple majority of its total members, and within a period less than a month, the approval of three-fifth of the total members.[23] The investigation would be carried out by a commission of fifteen members of the Assembly, each nominated by the political parties in proportion to their representation therein. The Commission would submit its report indicating the outcome of the investigation to the Speaker within two months. If the investigation is not completed within this period, the Commission's time renewed for another month. Within ten days of its submission to the Speaker, the report would be distributed to all members of the Assembly, and ten days after its distribution, the report would be discussed on the floor. Upon the approval of two thirds of the total number of the Assembly by secret vote, the person or persons, about whom the investigation was conducted, may be tried before the Constitutional Court. The trial would be finalized within three months, and if not, a one-time additional period of three months shall be granted. The President, about whom an investigation has been initiated, may not call for an election. The President, who is convicted by the Court, would be removed from office.

The provision of this article shall also apply to the offenses for which the President allegedly worked during his term of office.

UkraineEdit

During the crisis which started in November 2013, the increasing political stress of the face-down between the protestors occupying Independence Square in Kiev and the State Security forces under the control of President Yanukovych led to deadly armed force being used on the protestors. Following the negotiated return of Kiev's City Hall on February 16, 2014, occupied by the protesters since November 2013, the security forces thought they could also retake "Maidan", Independence Square. The ensuing fighting from 17 through 21 February 2014 resulted in a considerable number of deaths and a more generalised alienation of the population, and the withdrawal of President Yanukovych to his support area in the East of Ukraine.

In the wake of the President's departure, Parliament convened on February 22; it reinstated the 2004 Constitution, which reduced Presidential authority, and voted impeachment of President Yanukovych as de facto recognition of his departure from office as President of an integrated Ukraine. The President riposted that Parliament's acts were illegal as they could pass into law only by Presidential signature.

United KingdomEdit

In the United Kingdom, in principle anybody may be prosecuted and tried by the two Houses of Parliament for any crime.[24] The first recorded impeachment is that of William Latimer, 4th Baron Latimer during the Good Parliament of 1376. The last was that of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville in 1806.[24] Over the centuries, the procedure has been supplemented by other forms of oversight including select committees, confidence motions, and judicial review, while the privilege of peers to trial only in the House of Lords was abolished in 1948,[25] and thus impeachment, which has not kept up with modern norms of democracy or procedural fairness, is generally considered obsolete.[24]

United StatesEdit

 
The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist presiding. The House managers are seated beside the quarter-circular tables on the left and the president's personal counsel on the right, much in the fashion of President Andrew Johnson's trial.

Similar to the British system, Article One of the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of officers of the U.S. federal government. (Various state constitutions include similar measures, allowing the state legislature to impeach the governor or other officials of the state government.) In contrast to the British system, in the United States impeachment is only the first of two stages, and conviction during the second stage requires "the concurrence of two thirds of the members present".[26] Impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office; it is only a legal statement of charges, parallel to an indictment in criminal law. An official who is impeached faces a second legislative vote (whether by the same body or another), which determines conviction, or failure to convict, on the charges embodied by the impeachment. Most constitutions require a supermajority to convict. Although the subject of the charge is criminal action, it does not constitute a criminal trial; the only question under consideration is the removal of the individual from office, and the possibilities of a subsequent vote preventing the removed official from ever again holding political office in the jurisdiction where he or she was removed.

Impeachment with respect to political office should not be confused with witness impeachment.

The article on Impeachment in the United States discusses the following topics:

The House of Representatives has initiated impeachment proceedings only 64 times since 1789, only 19 of these proceedings actually resulting in the House's passing Articles of Impeachment, and of those, only eight resulted in removal from office (all federal judges).

Two presidents have been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. There were efforts to impeach John Tyler, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Baltzell, George W. "The Constitution of the United States - We the People - an easy to read and use version". constitutionus.com. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  2. ^ Erskine, Daniel H. (2008). "The Trial of Queen Caroline and the Impeachment of President Clinton: Law As a Weapon for Political Reform". Washington University Global Studies Law Review. 7 (1). ISSN 1546-6981.
  3. ^ Demeter, George (1969). Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, 1969 ed., p. 265
  4. ^ Andrew Jacobs (April 17, 2016). "Brazil's Lower House of Congress Votes for Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  5. ^ "Brazil's Dilma Rousseff to face impeachment trial". BBC News. May 12, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "Constitution of Croatia" (PDF). § 105. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  7. ^ Ústava České republiky. Psp.cz. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  8. ^ "Czech President Vaclav Klaus faces treason charge". BBC News. March 4, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  9. ^ Rob Cameron (March 28, 2013). "Constitutional Court throws out treason charges against ex-president Klaus". Radio Praha.
  10. ^ Ústava České republiky. Psp.cz. Retrieved on 2016-10-23.
  11. ^ https://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2018/07/25/le-president-de-la-republique-peut-il-etre-destitue-et-si-oui-pour-quelles-raisons_1668487
  12. ^ a b "Basic Law of Hong Kong". basiclaw.gov.hk. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  13. ^ "The Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act of 1971" (PDF). Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  14. ^ DON., RILEY (2017). LOCK HIM UP : impeachments in the united states. [S.l.]: LULU COM. ISBN 9781365960857. OCLC 1004843561.
  15. ^ Cowell, Alan (December 13, 1991). "President of Italy is Making Political Waves". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Italy parliament rejects bid to impeach President Napolitano". Reuters. February 11, 2014.
  17. ^ Horowitz, Jason (May 28, 2018). "Italian President's Loyalty to the Euro Creates Chaos". The New York Times.
  18. ^ a b c "Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein" (PDF). hrlibrary.umn.edu. Legal Service of the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein. 2003. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  19. ^ "The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania". Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  20. ^ "Lithuanian Parliament Removes Country's President After Casting Votes on Three Charges". The New York Times. April 7, 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  21. ^ Chan-Robles Virtual Law Library. "The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines - Article XI". Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  22. ^ ro:Referendumul pentru demiterea președintelui României, 2012
  23. ^ [https://www.tbmm.gov.tr/anayasa/anayasa_2018.pdf Grand National Assembly (2018)
  24. ^ a b c Simson Caird, Jack (June 6, 2016). "Commons Briefing papers CBP-7612" (PDF). House of Commons Library. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  25. ^ For details, see Judicial functions of the House of Lords § Trials.
  26. ^ U.S. Constitution. Article I, § 3, clause 6. November 12, 2009.

Further readingEdit