In order to change the Brazilian constitution, amendments must pass two rounds of votes in each congressional house—with a 60-percent majority needed in each. The pension reform, for instance, is unlikely to be approved in the lower house before the second half of the year. Amendments are difficult to pass. That is, unless you’re in an institutional crisis and Congress feels like cornering the federal government. Then, anything is possible.
This week, it took the lower house less than one hour to pass—in two rounds—an amendment stripping the government of the vast majority of its control over the federal budget.