Working groups in Brazil’s House have doubled. And that’s a problem

Unbound by congressional rules, working groups are too often a means of slyly fast-tracking or blocking bills – and they serve to make the Speaker even more powerful

house speaker lira
House Speaker Arthur Lira. Photo: Marina Ramos/CD/CC-BY 4.0

Midway through March, House Speaker Arthur Lira established a working group with legislators and members of the judicial system to discuss the adoption of a semi-presidential system in the country, similar to what France uses. There appears to be no demand for the reform among Brazilians, who voted against such a change in two plebiscites, in 1963 and 1993. 

Instead, the working group is more a representation of Arthur Lira’s own preferences. The Speaker has been a strong advocate for the semi-presidential system in the past. 

Interestingly, the 124-page statute that guides the legislative process within Brazil’s House of...

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