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Political Profile of Brazil

By jangel30 Apr 01, 2013 1556 Words
Political Profile of Brazil
Executive Summary:
Brazil’s overall strength as a state is in question because of political corruption. There is a lot of inequality and high poverty rates that are hampering the nation. The state has been attempting to rid the country of corruption but it has proven difficult especially in the past decade. Brazil’s government is tightly connected to its economy in several ways and their legislative and judiciary system are also extremely important. The most important issue is facing is the racial social and economic inequalities that still exists.

Political Development:
Brazil is the only Latin American nation that derives its language and culture from Portugal and currently has a population of around 200 million citizens. It first gained its independence in 1822 when the state peacefully broke its colonial ties it had previously held with Portugal. The state then transitioned into a monarchial system for several decades followed by a transition to a democratic system in 1889. However, this installment of democracy did not last long. Long periods of authoritarian rule along with military regimes took control of the government causing internal instability until the modern day Brazilian constitution was adopted in 1988 giving the country its first democracy in decades. There are also several important divisions in the country that are caused by race and ethnicity. Historically African-Brazilians have earned less income than other races living within Brazil. African-Brazilians also suffer from higher poverty rates and homicide rates. Also, the discrepancy in wealth between the Northern part of the country and the Southern part of the country is stunning. In 1985, the southeast accounted for 70% of the countries’ industrial production and 58% of the countries’ total GDP. This inequality is astounding because it means that the Northern part of the country is very poor unlike the economic booming south. According to the CIA World Factbook, the Per-capita gross domestic product of Brazil in 2011 is 11,900. As of 2011, this would put Brazil as 101st globally in total GDP. Also, Brazil has a very high UN Human Development Index. They score as a 0.718 which is very high for a Latin American country. As of 2008, Brazil also scores a 2 in the Freedom House scores for Political Rights and Civil Liberties. This means the state has great freedom and allows many liberties. Brazil’s overall strength as a state is in question is because of its political corruption as recent as 2011 which puts the countries’ overall legitimacy in question. Scandal has been present in this country for several decades most notably in 1992 involving President Fernando Collor de Mello. He was found guilty of having personal expenses paid for through an illegal peddling scheme. Brazil’s political infrastructure has been plagued recently by political corruption scandals as well. Illegal actions such as vote-buying, bribery, and overall abuse of power such as raising job salaries for favored citizens have all been found within the Brazilian government in the past few years. Although corruption is still an issue today, President Rousseff has made several strides to improve the situation. She has promoted an “ethical cleansing” campaign which has directly been implemented in the efforts of fighting political corruption. The results of this campaign have yet to be seen however because it was put into place in 2011 shortly after five of Rousseff’s cabinet members were ousted due to corruption scandals of their own. Another cause of Brazil’s questionable strength as a state is because of poor internal sovereignty. A blatant characteristic of this weakness is the strength and prevalence of crime and drug cartels. So far in 2012, it has been reported by Reporters without Borders that 3 reporters have been killed in connection with their work in Brazil. That is the fourth most of any country in the world this year. This statistic clearly shows that the Brazilian government is struggling to control what is happening within its own borders. Along with murder of the press, the government and police force struggle to keep a handle on the illegal drug trade. Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world and a large portion of these deaths are drug related. Part of this issue resides within the judicial system of Brazil. The judiciary system struggles against organized crime and it often faces corruption and external powers to render the system powerless.

Current Politics:

The current President of the state of Brazil is Dilma Rouseff. Rouseff is the head of the federal government which controls the entire government which is divided into three branches; executive, legislative and judicial.  Executive power is used by the President.  Legislative power is then used by the National Congress. The congress is a two-chamber legislature containing the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.  Judicial power is controlled by the judiciary and judges within it. Brazil has 4 different courts consisting of the Supreme Federal Court, the Superior Court of Justice, the National Justice Council and the regional courts. Along with the government structure, there are 27 registered political parties but 4 together hold the majority.  The Workers' Party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and the Democrats are the largest parties in Brazil and control the Senate from election to election. There are also several sub-states within Brazil. These states have their own constitution and governments that form the entirety of Brazil. Currently, Brazil is divided into 27 federative units. Each State has a unicameral legislation with representatives who vote state laws. Other than the current structure of the Brazilian government, voting behavior is very important. Voting in Brazil has historically always been compulsory, however, the voter turnout went down from 2006 to 2010 by 5%. Lastly, Brazil has seen one of the largest social movements in Latin American History in recent decades. The Landless Workers’ Movement has members in 23 of the 26 states and its primary goal is to fight for land access for poor workers. The organization wants to fight for this through land reform and achieving ethnic equality amongst its citizens.

Electoral System:

Power in the Brazilian political system is mostly in the executive branch. Elections for most executive offices, including president, governors, and mayors have a majoritarian where one candidate must acquire at least 50% of the votes. However other positions such as state deputies and federal deputies are filled in proportional elections. The national legislature is bicameral but the state legislatures have a single chamber. There is also a minimum of eight representatives per state and a maximum of 60. This gives Brazil has one of the most disproportional systems of proportional representation in the entire world. Along with the election system, the judicial system is also very important. The Supreme Federal Court is the highest Brazilian judiciary and has several important roles. It has the power of judicial review where it can review laws and legislation to determine whether they follow the constitution or not. The primary job of the Supreme Federal Court is to protect the Brazilian constitution from being violated in any way. Brazil’s government also plays a very important role in the country’s economy. Brazil's controls many parts of the economy including telecommunications, power, oil, mining, and the water supply. The government mainly controls these economic parts to avoid the establishment of monopolies of any kind over important economic features.

Issues and Policies:

The most important issue that Brazil’s political infrastructure is facing is the racial social and economic inequalities that still exist. Historically African-Brazilians have earned less income than other races living within Brazil. African-Brazilians also suffer from higher poverty rates and homicide rates. The fact that racial inequality of this magnitude still exists within Brazil further proves the state is weak and is not internally sovereign. The economic inequalities within the state are staggering as well. The discrepancy in wealth between the Northern part of the country and the Southern part of the country is stunning. In 1985, the southeast accounted for 70% of the countries’ industrial production and 58% of the countries’ total GDP. This inequality is astounding because it means that the Northern part of the country is very poor unlike the economic booming south. This great divide creates a great deal of inequality among citizens and raises the question to the government if they are able to control if the country is developing productively for their nation’s well-being.

Work Cited
."Fredom in the World: Brazil." Web. 11 Oct 2012. <>.

Souza, Celina. "Redemocratization and Decentralization in Brazil: The Strength of the Member States." 27. (1996): 530-551. Print.

"29 journalists killed so far in 2012: RSF." Journalism Pakistan. (July 2012): n. page. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <>.

Lattman-Weltman, Fernando. September 29, 1992: Collor's Impeachment Fundação Getúlio Vargas. Retrieved October 11, 2012.

Wittmeyer, Alicia. "The world's 10 deadliest cities." Sydney Morning Herald 10 10 2012, n. pag. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <>.

"Timeline: Brazil ." BBC News 14 08 2012, n. pag. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <>.

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