Brazil's Public Prosecutor - Ministério Público Federal

Will Brazil’s ‘Prosecutocracy’ Transform Brazil for the Better?

Will any good come of Brazil’s new prosecutocracy? All are amazed at how Brazil’s Federal Police, Public Prosecutors, and Courts continue to arraign high-level politicians and private sector accomplices on charges of corruption. We are witnessing an extraordinary and unprecedented application of the rule of law, quite unlike anywhere else. Do not be fooled, however; this is not a popular movement to clamp down on corruption. Instead, this is a struggle between politicians and an emergent legal technocracy, or better put, a...

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Corruption by Design – The Forgotten R$19 Billion

The Car Wash Investigations are sexy. After all, they tell the story of Brazil and Petrobras’ parallel rise and fall, from Petrobras’ discovery of pre-salt oil, which made it one of the world’s most capitalized companies, to massive waste and corruption, which have rendered the company among the world’s most indebted. The Zealot (Zelotes) Investigations are not sexy, and many will indeed ask, ‘what the heck are these?’ Well, while everyone has been aghast at the Car Wash and impeachment, a congressional inquiry has been crawling...

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call out

Non-Responses to Citizen Demands – Congress and The Media

Chanelling Demands Crisis can be a key catalyst for reform, but all depends on the ability to effectively channel citizen demands and the responsiveness of key political actors. The Channel is clear – the “popular initiative” (Art.62 of the 1988 Constitution), which requires signatures by 1% of the electorate (1.34 million citizens) spread across at least 5 states, with signatures in each state representing at least 0.3% of its electors.* Political Responsiveness The problem is responsiveness. Today, Contas Abertas reports...

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light

Proposals to Root-Out Political Corruption in Brazil

As I have opined in previous posts, a) the party and electoral system is the key to understanding political corruption in Brazil; and, b) the media has been loathe to provide salience to any concrete proposals for reform, especially among civil society advocates. Simply put, Brazil’s fragmented party system, giant districts, and open-list competition produces hearty profits for the media. Why rock the boat if you can have the captain walk the plank? If the media will not give salience to reform proposals, let me indulge you with one...

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Apple

It’s the Party System. What To Do about It.

The irony of Brazil’s political system is that its fragmented party system – so seemingly appropriate for countering historical legacies of patrimonialism and monopoly power – has provoked forms of neopatrimonialism, whereby state resources are used to buy the support of other politicians. What can be done to fix Brazilian politics? As I wrote last post, it’s the party system, stupid. Moderate party systems work best, we know. Political scientists have found this out by examining tradeoffs in representativeness, accountability...

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Just a few of many...

Mensalão + Car Wash = It’s the Party System, Stupid.

It is safe to say that the problem with Brazil’s government is not its choice of coalition partners, but rather the lack of choice. Faced with a governing coalition in disintegration, Rousseff has given larger pieces of the state pie to several of Brazil’s many rent-seeking parties. One of them, the Partido Progresista (PP), has been accused of receiving R$358 million (US$100 million) in illegal party finance, bribes, and kickbacks in association with Petrobras and the Car Wash Scandal. Grim  details about the scandalous exploits of...

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Part of over 2 Million Signatures for the Popular Initiative

Brazil’s Anti-Corruption Showdown

With impeachment little less than imminent, the question is whether a new government will strengthen or weaken the legislative tool-box of corruption-blasting policies I wrote about yesterday. Given the PMDB’s involvement in corruption allegations and its amorphous policy principles and democratic history, it is not surprising to read that PMDB leaders in Congress are supporting legislative measures to weaken key plea bargaining arrangements. Let’s get this straight – if the Public Prosecutor and Federal Police lose the power to offer...

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Rousseff

Long Last the Legal Legacy of Rousseff

Political scientist Carlos Pereira and I have been patiently waiting for our article on the Mensalão corruption scandal to come out in the Journal of Latin American Studies. I am particularly anxious because we establish the contours of an argument surrounding the accountability and transparency advances made during the Rousseff administration. This argument follows in the footsteps of work detailing Brazil’s incremental accountability gains undertaken by American University Professor Matt Taylor and FGV-CPDOC Professor, Sergio...

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Lula & now imprisoned Chief of Staff José Dirceu - Better Days

Colluding Against Brazil’s Criminal Justice System? Good Luck.

The Minister of Justice, Eduardo Cardozo, resigned about a month ago, buffeted by pressures to reel-in the Federal Police. No one doubts what these pressures are about – the ferocious prosecution of the Car Wash (Lava Jato) investigation. Now the government is apparently looking to replace the director general of the Federal Police, who is administratively and financially beholden to the Minister of Justice. This ostensible ‘neutering’ of the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Police is a first political stab at bringing the Car Wash...

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Counter-majoritarianism

The Failure of Counter-Majoritarianism in Brazil’s (Evolving) Legal Order

Law has failed Brazil in a moment of decisiveness. Brazil’s judiciary, like any other, is a counter-majoritarian institution – the last check on the mercurial majorities represented by parliaments and presidents. Yet this basic premise has been lost to frenzied majoritarianism. Yesterday, the prosecuting judge behind the ‘Car Wash’ scandal, Sergio Moro, acted in a decidedly majoritarian and legally irresponsible manner by releasing taped conversations between former and actual Presidents, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma...

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