Brazil's Political Structure

Brazil is a democratic republic with a governing president. Laws are enacted by the bicameral National Congress. The people of Brazil use a system of proportional representation to elect their representatives.

Between 1968 and 1985, Brazil was briefly ruled by a military dictatorship. Since 1985, the country has returned to civilian government characterized by peaceful transitions of power.

Democracy was fully re-established to Brazil in 1988, ushering in the current Federal Constitution. The Brazilian Federation is composed of four autonomous entities with no power hierarchy: States, Municipalities, Union, and the Federal District. The division of power among the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches exists as well, organized by the above four entities and elected by direct suffrage. The country is currently governed by Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first woman president.

Given its great size and population, Brazil is a South American leader in politics as well as economics. It is considered a leader of developing countries worldwide, with a foreign policy oriented toward multi-lateralism.

The economic policies initiated by former president Fernando Cardoso have completely eliminated hyperinflation and grown Brazil’s economy into the seventh largest in the world. However, this early economic progress has come at the expense of high taxes and poor investment in public services, along with increased corruption. Although Brazil’s economy was relatively untouched by the recession of the late 2000s, inflation has now crept back up to 6%.

In June 2013, these grievances erupted into widespread protests in most Brazilian cities. Thus far, most of these protests have been peaceful. The National Congress has addressed several specific grievances, which may reduce the level of protests later this year.