The Brazil government operates as a republican form of government also called a federative republic, or federation of states. The central government is the federation and the states are the subdivisions within that government that maintain or support the federation.
The federal or central government handles larger issues like monetary policy, national defense and security, and anything else that would affect the country as a whole. Issues such as education, road repairs, and taxes are handled at the local level by the individual states.
It's similar to the United States in that the federal government ultimately has the final say, but the states are granted control over areas of government that affect their stated directly.
The Federation of Brazil consists of 26 individual states and one federal district. The federal district, or Distrito Federal, is home to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. The states are also called Federative Units.
Executive branch - president elected by the people for up to two 4-year long terms. The president is also referred to as the head of government and the chief of state
Chamber of Deputies - 513 members elected by the people for 8-year long terms that are staggered
Judicial - 11 people appointed to lifelong positions by the president. This branch of government is comprised of state, federal, and municipal courts.
Legislative - 81 members of the Senate elected to 8-year long terms that are staggered
There are 21 different political parties within the country of Brazil.
The president is the head of the federation and is elected by the people every 4 years. As of the Constitution of 1988, a presidential candidate must be a minimum of 35 years old, born and residing in Brazil, and be an elector.
He or she must also qualify to run for office, which means he or she has electoral rights. Lastly, the presidential candidate must be a member of an established political party considering that write-in candidates are not permitted on the ballot in Brazil.
The president's duties include commanding the Brazilian Armed Forces as their commander-in-chief, representing Brazil across the world, heading up the executive branch of the Brazil government, and appointing Cabinet members and judges to sit on the Supreme Federal Tribunal. The president can also put laws on the books as well.
The president's official title is the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil if the president is a man.
The current President of Brazil happens to be a woman, President Dilma Vana Rousseff. She is addressed with one of three titles of respect: President of the Republic, Her Excellency Madam President of the Republic, or Madam President.
President Rousseff took office in January 2011, succeeding her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
How did Brazil arrive at this form of government for their country?
1534 - divisions within Brazil were called hereditary captaincies, which were areas of land that merchants or Portuguese nobleman were permitted to lease in hopes of colonizing the country. The father would pass his land on to his son for several years until the king took that right away from the people.
16th century - the State of Brazil was divided into two states: Estado do Maranhao and Estado de Brazil
1580-1640 - land of South America was divided into royal captaincies, captaincies, and provinces. One person, monarch, ran the country.
1822 - all the captaincies were turned into provinces
1840 - two-party system with emperor
1889 - all provinces were then turned into states
1889-1930 - the constitution of Brazil, also referred to as Old Republic, the people elected a president, state governors, state legislators, a National Congress, and local state officials
1964 - military was in charge of Brazil government for 21 years. During this time, elections were still held for local/state government positions, but the federal ones were governed indirectly by the military.
1980- six political parties existed by this time
1985 - Brazil returned to civilian rule
In a nutshell, the Brazilian government has endured two periods of dictators, three periods of democratic rule, and six different constitutions since the year 1889. Voting is not a choice given to the people, but rather it is mandatory.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, affectionately known as Lula, was the most popular president of Brazil for many reasons. He came from literally nothing, shining shoes of the wealthy as a boy on the streets, to becoming president of an amazing country.
He served the two terms allowed by Brazil's constitution. During his time in office, he worked diligently to close the extremely wide economic gap between the poor and the rich of Brazil. His work endeared him to the people in a way that no other president has done.
Lula's chief-of-staff, affectionately called Dilma is now president of Brazil. She took office in January 2011 and plans to follow closely in the footsteps of her former boss by working hard to continue helping the poor of the country. The goal of Lula, and hopefully now Dilma, is to give the poor opportunities to make their lives better economically and at the same time, allow the rich of the country to continue to earn money by investing well.
Brazilians must have seen that Dilma was much like Lula, or else they would not have elected her to the office of president. They recognize the changes that Lula made in favor of the poorer people without penalizing the rich. They want that type of positive change to continue, so they made their voices heard by electing Dilma.
One of the biggest challenges facing Brazil's new president is to continue finding ways to close the gap between the classes of Brazil. Lula did a great job, but there is still more work to be done. It is now said that Lula's way became Brazil's way of life! That's how involved he became in the people of Brazil's lives.
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