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Politics

Constitutional Framework

Brazil is a federal republic divided into 26 states and the Federal District (Distrito Federal), the latter including the capital city, Brasília. Since 1934 the nation has had universal suffrage. In 1988 Brazil promulgated a new constitution—the eighth since the country's independence in 1822—that abolished many traces of the military regime (1964–85), defined civil rights, and outlined the functions of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It restricted the president's power to legislate, proscribed government censorship of the arts, condemned the use of torture, prohibited extradition for political crimes, set the minimum voting age at 16 years, and allowed the federal government to intervene in state and local affairs. The constitution has been amended several times since its promulgation, but some of the changes have been temporary, with specifically designated timespans.

Political Parties

The current political party system began to emerge in the 1940s under President Getúlio Dorneles Vargas, who established the Social Democratic Party and the Brazilian Labour Party to buffer his weakening administration. A number of other parties were organized and entered elections through the 1950s and early '60s, but few of them gained much influence. In 1965 the military government, which had taken power the previous year, abolished all political parties and replaced them with a single government party, the National Renewal Alliance, and a lone opposition party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement. The government abolished these two organizations in 1979 and allowed more parties to participate but still under restrictive regulations. After civilian government was restored in 1985, Brazil again legalized all political parties, and a highly fragmented multiparty system emerged, anchored by the Liberal Front Party, the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement, and the Workers' Party.

Adapted from Britannica.com – Administration in Brazil.

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