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Brazil Index
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Constitutional Background

Brazil had seven constitutions since its independence. Six were republican constitutions; of those, four (including the present one) were democratic. The 1891 Constitution abolished monarchy and introduced separate state powers. There have so far been six new republican constitution, the current one formally promulgated on 5 Oct 1988 after it had been drafted by a National Congress, specially empowered in 1984.

The 1988 Constitution reinforces the powers of the legislature and introduces environmental protection. The bicameral National Congress comprises the Federal Senate (81 members in 1994) and the Chamber of Deputies (503 in 1994). Voting is compulsory for all literate citizens from 18 to 70 years of age and optional for all others at least 16 years of age. Candidates must belong to a political party. Ministers are directly responsible to the President. Brazil's federal republic consists of 26 States and the Federal District with the capital Brasilia. State governors are elected by direct popular vote. The judiciary comprises a Federal Supreme Court (11 justices) as well as a Superior Court of Justice.

History and News

  • 28 Jan 1997: Congress takes, by an unexpectedly wide margin, a vote in favor of the re-election amendment which is later promulgated.
  • 9 April 1996: President Fernando Henrique Cardoso suggests amending the Constitution to allow him to be re-elected.
  • 1993: In a plesbicite, the Presidential Republic was mantained.
  • 5 Oct 1988: The 7th Constitution is promulgated.
  • 1891: After monarchy is abolished, the first democratic constitution is adopted.
  • 15 Nov 1889: Brazil is declared to be a republic.
  • March 1824: By act of the Brazilian Emperor, the first Brazilian constitution is enforced.
  • 7 Sep 1822: Brazil's independence; the first constitution.
  • 1820: Portuguese absolutism falls with the revolution of Porto; a constitution for the Union is adopted; this is not recognized as a Brazilian constitution.
  • 1814: Colonial domination ends when Brazil is elevated to a Kingdom, united with Portugal.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - March 25th, 2014 / For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.