Power

Keep your friends close, and your vice president closer

President Jair Bolsonaro and Vice President Hamilton Mourão
President Jair Bolsonaro and Vice President Hamilton Mourão. Photo: Alan Santos/PR

In theory, the vice president is little more than a symbolic figure in Brazilian politics. A president’s running mate is often used as a way of giving prestige to allied parties and the office itself is largely ignored by the public, having virtually no institutional responsibilities other than being an emergency “just-in-case” option.

In reality, however, that is not the case.

Of Brazil’s 38 presidents, eight of them took the job after being elected vice president and seeing the top job vacated for a number of reasons, be it death, resignation, or impeachment. Since the country’s return to...

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