A language guide to institutions in Brazil

Like Germany , Brazil is a federal state. It consists of 26 states plus a federal district. Its current constitution dates back to 1988. What is the role of the president and what are the main Brazilian institutions ? That’s what Babbel invites you to discover through this language guide to institutions in Brazil !

Senado Federal , Câmara dos Deputados … a lexicon of institutions in Brazil
Brazilian institutions have their headquarters in Brasília, the new federal capital since 1960. There is the Palace of the Dawn ( Palácio da Alvorada ) , residence of the president, and the Planalto Palace ( Palácio do Planalto ) , his place of work . Before Brasília, Rio de Janeiro has served as the capital since 1763. The first capital of Brazil, established in 1549, is Salvador.

At the head of the state and Brazilian institutions is the president, elected by direct universal suffrage in two rounds for a four-year term. He is supported in his functions by the vice-president, in a way the equivalent of the French Prime Minister.

The vice-president does not necessarily belong to the same political formation as the president, like cohabitation in France . In the event of the death or dismissal of the president, the vice-president resumes his duties until the end of the current mandate. This is what happened in 2016 with the dismissal of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef and the accession to power by interim of Michel Temer. If the words destituição and impedimento exist in Portuguese, it is the term impeachment that is favored in Brazilian Portuguese , modeling the United States.

The presidential election in Brazil is always held at the same time as the legislative elections. On the other hand, the latter are based on the proportional system. Seats are divided according to the number of votes cast. A second round is therefore excluded. As a result, the elected president often has to negotiate and form an alliance with opposition parties to obtain a majority in Parliament. Unlike France, and in a configuration similar to Germany, coalitions are more a rule than an exception.

Did you know ? Fernando Henrique Cardoso is the only Brazilian president to have been elected in the first round. In 1994, he won 54.3% of the vote in the first round. Four years later, he again obtained an absolute majority without a second round, with 53.1% of the vote. In France, since the Fifth Republic of 1958 and the election of the president by direct universal suffrage, this has never happened…

The Brazilian Parliament is made up of two chambers:

The Senate ( Senado Federal ) has 81 senators elected for 8 years, ie 3 senators for each of the 26 states (78 in total) and 3 others for the Federal District.
The Chamber of Deputies ( Câmara dos Deputados ) has 513 elected for a 4-year term.
What are the main political parties in Brazil?
At the center of Brazil’s institutions, the major political forces are divided into parties of equal size and importance:

The PT ( Partido dos Trabalhadores ) , left-wing workers’ party founded by Lula;
The PDT ( Partido Democrático Trabalhista ) , centre-left labor party;
The PSDB ( Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira ) , a centre-right party;
The Democrats ( Democratas or DEM) , right-wing party;
The PL (Partido liberal) , far-right party to which Jair Bolsonaro is affiliated.
There are other Brazilian parties, including:

The PCB ( Partido Comunista Brasileiro ) , Brazilian communist party;
The MDB ( Movimento Democrático Brasileiro ) , Brazilian democratic movement;
The PRP ( Partido Republicano Progressista ) , progressive republican party;
THE PV ( Partido Verde ) , green party.
Power in Brazil: a question of influence and blood ties
In Brazil, political life maintains very close ties with the business world. The financing of electoral campaigns often requires very large sums. As a result, many elected MPs are wealthy businessmen. If companies have the right to finance campaigns, this is not the case for unions. Another Brazilian specificity: the political scene is still very marked by families . Indeed, two out of three Brazilian deputies and three out of four senators are considered the heirs of a clan. If the monarchy has been abolished since the end of the 19th century, in fact, the dynasties persist, favoring corruption and social inequalities.

Did you know ? Brazil had an emperor until 1889, when the Empire of Brazil was abolished and the reign of Pedro II ended. Today, there is still a monarchist political movement represented by Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Bragança and some elected members of Parliament.

Ordem e progresso : the origins of the national currency
If there are two words to know in Brazil, it’s Ordem e progresso . In French, “Order and progress”. Visible on the country’s flag, these two concepts have been inseparable from the social and political life of Brazil since 1889. It is inspired by a quote from the French philosopher Auguste Comte: “Love as a principle and order as a basis; progress as a goal”. The slogan was first adopted by a church in its literal translation, namely “O Amor por principio ea Ordem por base; o Progresso por fim”. It did not take long to seduce the whole country-continent.

Did you know ? The influence of the Church in Brazil remains strong, including in the political life of the country. The Churches do not hesitate to take part in the debates during the elections and to give their opinion. We also find the Christian roots of the country in several parties such as the Christian Democracy or the Social-Christian Party. In Parliament, the evangelical lobby is particularly powerful . The pressure group brings together elected officials from different churches, closely monitoring the decisions and actions of the government.

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