Brazil’s Next President – “O Maluco” v. “A Máfia” (The Madman v. The Mafia)

TwitterFacebook45Google+0LinkedinemailTomorrow, people will be forced to decide whether to vote for what one group of voters is calling a “madman” (Jair Bolsonaro) and another group of voters often refer to as “a mafia” (the PT or Workers’ Party). There is no least of these worst choices  – they are both appalling. It is an anti-candidate election; the winner will be the candidate voters reject less, not the one viewed to be the better choice. It’s hard to predicate a solid democracy on a contest between...

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Brazil’s Information Ecology: Adrift at Sea, Stranded in Information Deserts

TwitterFacebook4Google+0LinkedinemailSeptember 28th marked International Right-to-Know Day, which celebrates citizen’s right to know about what their government does and how it performs. But the right to know is more generally about transparency and, ultimately, the political ecology of information. Brazil’s access to public information law does have problems of compliance, implementation, under-investment and political commitment, as we show in an article published this August in Revista de Administracao Publica (FGV). But thinking more...

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Transparently 2017

TwitterFacebook0Google+0LinkedinemailSo much has happened since I last wrote 6 months ago that I am rather embarrassed not to have captured some of the more savory parts of the Brazilian drama in writing. But the academic’s life, alas, is about publishing the sort of article that only a few experts read – in journals that take a year or more review and print our works…by which point they become relatively irrelevant…. One of my goals as an academic is to strive for policy relevance, so here is a short summary of how I have modestly...

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Former Presidents Decide on International Outsourcing of Brazil’s Government*

TwitterFacebook44Google+0LinkedinemailIn discussion late last night at President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Atibaia vacation propery, Brazil’s three living unimpeached presidents decided to pursue the international outsourcing of government in Brazil. “It has to be admitted, Brazilians have simply proven themselves unfit to govern the country,” said former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC). The plan, according to FHC, is to pursue a constitutional reform that would suspend Congress temporarily and concentrate...

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Not just the Corruption, but the Spending

TwitterFacebook87Google+0LinkedinemailReading the newspaper these days in Brazil is a journey through chaos and despair. The country is a black hole. Repulsive? Your mind immediately thinks corruption and rent-seeking, at which Brazil has proven its eminence over the past few years. Few days go by when one does not read about tens or hundreds of millions – or even billions – being siphoned off in the most brazen and repulsive of manners. I always think to myself… if it became known that a governor of a US state led a scheme...

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Summary – Moving Brazil Forward

TwitterFacebook0Google+0LinkedinemailPrologue: I wrote this piece as part of a presentation I made to visiting students from Holland. It assembles my thoughts on how current events pertaining to corruption and the rule of law might transform Brazil. I amply plagiarize my previous work. GM A Conflagration of Corruption in Brazil – Will it Lead to Transformation? Over the past five years or so, Brazil has witnessed a transformation in the rule of law quite unlike anywhere else. Much of this revolution seems to have started with a legislative...

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

TwitterFacebook109Google+0LinkedinemailWill 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...

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Corruption by Design – The Forgotten R$19 Billion

TwitterFacebook27Google+0LinkedinemailThe 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...

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Non-Responses to Citizen Demands – Congress and The Media

TwitterFacebook8Google+0LinkedinemailChanelling 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...

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Proposals to Root-Out Political Corruption in Brazil

TwitterFacebook15Google+0LinkedinemailAs 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...

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