Power

Why congressional investigation committees are important again

Why congressional investigation committees are important again
Brazil’s Congress. Photo: Antonio Salaverry

For years, parliamentary investigation committees (CPI) were political instruments feared by governments. In the early 1990s, the Fernando Collor administration began to crumble once corruption revelations came to light in a CPI to investigate his campaign treasurer. Years later, another such CPI—investigating fraud in the federal budget—led to the impeachment of six lawmakers. In 2005 and 2006, another committee exposed a bribery scheme within the Lula administration—nearly bringing down his government.

With time, however, CPIs have evolved into a spectacle more aimed at impressing voters and airing dirty laundry in public, rather than serious investigations. As Euan Marshall wrote...

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