Can political reform succeed where it has failed so many times before?

The House Speaker is advocating for a system of “semi-presidentialism”, which he believes will generate less resistance than failed proposals of the past

political reform brazil
From the left: House Speaker Arthur Lira, President Bolsonaro, and Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

Proposals to reform Brazil’s system of government is a hardy, perennial issue in the country’s political debate. Periodically, policymakers and pundits float proposals to replace Presidentialism — adopted in 1889 after the military coup that ended Brazil’s oligarchic constitutional monarchy — with systems in which the current separation of both origin and responsibilities between the head of government and the parliament decreases. 

The goal is to eliminate what has been, historically, one of the main sources of political instability in the country: presidents who, in the face of resistance from Congress, manage to expand the president’s power. By...

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