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

Tomorrow, 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 “not him” and “not that party”...

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Summary – Moving Brazil Forward

Prologue: 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 vote-buying scheme that Carlos Pereira...

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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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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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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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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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