Power

How Brazil’s House Speaker wields his power

House Speaker Arthur Lira has managed to whip votes for government-backed projects within the opposition to Jair Bolsonaro. And here's how he does it

House Speaker Arthur Lira (PP-AL) during an event with sugar producers in São Paulo. Photo: Igor do Vale/Folhapress
House Speaker Arthur Lira (PP-AL) during an event with sugar producers in São Paulo. Photo: Igor do Vale/Folhapress

In most democracies, the role of congressional speaker comes with significant power, thanks to their influence over the legislative agenda. But as political scientist Beatriz Rey explained in a recent op-ed, these powers have been overblown in Brazil — making the country’s House Speaker capable of re-shaping the country’s entire political landscape.

Since the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in 2016, Congress has held an increasing amount of power over the Executive branch. Under the current House Speaker Arthur Lira, Brazil has become a de facto parliamentary system — with the speaker exerting direct control over immense chunks of...

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