2022 Race

House Speaker calls for debate on semi-presidential system

debate semi presidential system
House Speaker Arthur Lira (wearing a mask) and President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Zeca Ribeiro/CD/CC-BY 4.0

House Speaker Arthur Lira said on Thursday that Congress will discuss a constitutional reform to replace Brazil’s presidential system with a semi-presidential government — stripping powers from the president and creating the role of a prime minister.

“Debates will take place between March until June, with no push for a [floor] vote before the [October] elections,” Mr. Lira told reporters.

Since the removal of Dilma Rousseff in 2016, Congress has gained more power than ever before. Many political scientists say the country has already turned into a de facto parliamentary system. Apparently, lawmakers want to make it official. 

Besides the shift in the Brasília power dynamics, the idea has gained steam since the president’s office began clashing with the Supreme Court. Amid an increasingly tense atmosphere, congressmen have begun presenting themselves as democratic guardrails against President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic rampants. Still, Mr. Lira claims any change to the country’s regime would only be enforced after 2030.

Brazil has rejected a shift to a parliamentary system in two referendums already, the last one taking place in 1993.