How Congress increased its powers over Brazil’s political agenda

In an interview with the American University in Washington, ex-House Speaker Rodrigo Maia analyzed his legacy, his views on representative democracy in Brazil, and legislative effectiveness

congress Rodrigo Maia led Brazil's lower house until February 2021. Photo: Marcelo Camargo/ABr
Rodrigo Maia led Brazil’s lower house until February 2021. Photo: Marcelo Camargo/ABr

As speaker of Brazil’s House of Representatives between 2016 and early this year, Rodrigo Maia was one of the country’s most powerful and relevant political figures. Brought in by President Michel Temer to settle the ship after the 2016 impeachment of Dilma Rousseff at the hands of Congress and arrest of previous House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, Mr. Maia quickly proved himself to be a savvy political operator and wielded great influence over Brazil’s legislative branch.

In 2019, Mr. Maia became one of the most outspoken critics of President Jair Bolsonaro. He protected Congress from Mr. Bolsonaro’s more anti-democratic forays and...

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