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Brazil Government

The Brazil Federation is governed by the 1988 constitution as amended. There is a bicameral legislature consisting of an upper Federal Senate and a lower Chamber of Deputies. The 81 senators are elected for eight years and the 513 deputies are elected for four years. Administratively, the country is divided into 26 states and one federal district (Brasília); each state has its own governor and legislature.

The Federation is based on the indissoluble association of three autonomous political entities: the States, the Municipalities and the Federal District. A fourth entity originated in the aforementioned association: the Union. There is no hierarchy among the political entities. The Federation is set on six fundamental principles: sovereignty, citizenship, dignity of the people, social value of labour, freedom of enterprise and political pluralism.

Practically all governmental and administrative functions are exercised by authorities and agencies affiliated with the Executive. The form of government is Republican and democratic, and the system of government is Presidential. The President is Head of State and Head of Government of the Union and is elected for a four-year term, with the possibility of re-election for a second successive term. The President may unilaterally intervene in state affairs. Currently the President of Brazil is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He was elected in October 27, 2002, and re-elected in October 29, 2006. The President appoints the Ministers of State and is assisted by them. Governors head the government in States and the Federal District, whilst Mayors are responsible for the government of Municipalities. Governors and Mayors are assisted by Secretaries.

The classic tripartite division of power, encompassing the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches under the checks and balances system, is formally established by the Constitution. The Executive and Legislative are organised independently in all four political entities, whilst the Judiciary is organised only in the Federal and State levels.

Legislative houses in each political entity are the main source of laws in Brazil. The National Congress is the Union’s Legislative. It is a bicameral house formed by the House of Representatives and the Federal Senate. Representatives are elected every four years in a system of proportional representation, and represent the people. Senators are elected for eight-year terms, and represent the interests of the States. The ordinary law making process is described in detail by the Federal Constitution. The constitution stipulates that Congress meet every year from 15 March to 15 December. In practice, from 1964 to 1985, the military used the office of the President to dominate the Congress and the state legislatures, suspending them from time to time.

The Executive participates by analyzing and eventually vetoing laws before they are formally enacted. Vetoes can be overturned by the Legislative. On certain matters, the Executive and Judiciary authorities may have exclusive prerogatives for legislative initiative. In the States and Municipalities, the Legislative is organised in unicameral houses named, respectively, Legislative Assemblies and Municipal Houses. Legislative houses may pass legal judgment in exceptional cases and have administrative functions related to their personnel.

Judiciary authorities exercise jurisdictional duties almost exclusively. They can also enact laws related to internal court proceedings. Also, the Judiciary has administrative functions regarding its personnel. The Union’s Judiciary relates to the Federal Justice system. States have their own Justice system, and so does the Federal District. Municipalities rely upon the State or Federal Justice depending on the lawsuit nature. Both the Federal and State Justice systems are interconnected when appeals reach higher courts. By historical tradition, Brazilian Justice is also divided according to the specialised courts, so there are also labour, military and election courts.

The main political parties are the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, the Liberal Front party (now known as the Democrats party), the Democratic Labor party, the Brazilian Social Democracy party and the Workers party.

Voting is compulsory for most men and employed women between the ages of 18 and 65 and optional for persons over 65, unemployed women, those between 16 and 18 years of age, and officers of the armed forces. Illiterates were permitted to vote in 1985. Enlisted servicemen may not vote.


Country name
conventional long form: Federative Republic of Brazil
conventional short form: Brazil
local long form: Republica Federativa do Brasil
local short form: Brasil

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