Country Report on Brazil
Political Institutions, State and Regime type in Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in Latin America. The country was colonized for over three hundred years before it gained independence from the Portuguese on September 7, 1822. Brazil maintained a monarchical system of governance until 1888 when the country was proclaimed as a republic with a presidential system of governance (CIA Factbook).
The country of Brazil is divided into five distinct regions which include North, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast, and South. These regions are used for administrative purposes, and they highly correspond to geographic, demographic, economic, and cultural differences in Brazil. The Northeast region is inhabited by the population of African descent, and the South is occupied by the Brazilians of European and Japanese ancestry. Local or the indigenous Brazilians live in the North and Central-West. Brazil population comprises of different races that result from migration and racial interbreeding between diverse nations.
Brazil is a federal republic and has 26 states as the administrative divisions and one Federal District in Brasilia, the Capital of Brazil. All the 26 states have their own governments which replicate the Federal government. These states are headed by the governors, who are elected by the direct popular vote as stipulated under the Federal Constitution. The Judiciary of the state follows the pattern of the Federal judiciary to avoid superimposition of the Federal courts. The constitution allowed the creation of Municipal councils that are directed to deal with the local affairs. More than 4,400 Municipal Councils are guided by the provisions of the Basic Law of Municipalities.
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The Brazil's first Constitution under the Republic was promulgated in 1891 after the abolishment of the monarchical system of governance. The Constitution established a presidential system and three independent powers, namely Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary. The three independent arms were retained in Brazil's six constitutional reviews and are present in the current Constitution. The current Constitution was drafted to empower the National Congress that was elected in 1984. The 1988 Constitution made changes that incorporated new concepts from environmental conservation to increase the powers of the legislature in its relationship with the Executive. The amendments made to the new Constitution enacted legislative rules that can influence the behavior of the President and the Congress. In addition, the new constitution institutes the principles of decentralization, transparency, participation, and redistribution. These are the key principles necessary to transform policy making and implementation. The Constitution helped to devolve the administrative sovereignty to the sub-national governments (Swank). The sub-governments are mandated with the role of redistribution and mandated with functional responsibilities.
The Brazilian Federal Constitution provides for three arms of independent government. The three independent arms of government include executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive arm is headed by the President who is the chief of the state and the head of the government. The President serves a four year term and is elected by the popular vote (The CIA Factbook). The executive branch of the Brazilian government comprises of the President, the Vice President and the Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the President. The Constitution allows the Ministers to be summoned by the Senate, Chamber of Deputies or any of their committee.
The legislative arm of the government is bicameral. It comprises of the National Congress that has two houses, the Federal Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Federal Senate has 81 seats, where three members are elected from each state and federal district. The Chamber of Deputies has 513 seats and the members are elected by proportional representation, and each serve four-year terms.
The Judicial arm of Brazilian government vests its power in the Supreme Federal Tribunal. The other courts are the Higher Tribunal of Justice and Regional Federal Tribunals. The Supreme Federal Tribunal is appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The 11 elected members of the Federal Supreme Court are appointed to serve those positions for life. The judges are also appointed for life, but they have a mandatory retirement age of 70 years as the federal employees. The Federal Supreme Court heads the judicial system (The CIA Factbook).
The process of voting in Brazil is universal and compulsory for citizens aged eighteen to seventy years. The voters must be members of any political party to qualify for the voting exercise. The voting process in Brazil uses electronic methods to reduce the chances of fraud, and to hasten the exercise. The political parties are registered by the Higher Electoral Tribunal, which ensures that the parties conform to the minimum legislated requirements.
Political institutions, state and regime type in Brazil have political implications on the current politics of Brazil. Political institutions play a crucial role in determining the nature of the policymaking process. This factor in conjunction with other features of the policy issues, determine the characteristics of public policies (Desposato). Political institutions in Brazil have an effect on the ability of political actors to make political transactions.
Political actors can help maximize gains from political exchanges that would be for the best interests to the society. The factors affecting policymaking process generate cooperation, but political institutions determine the key players in the forum. This also affects the frequency of their interaction to foster the developments of the society. Kingstone states that the Brazilian electoral and party systems constrain effective policymaking (Kingstone). Political institutions help to account for reforms in Brazil and the role of ideas and ideology among the political class. The political class plays an active role in the economic and political factors.