Presidents and the multiparty system in Brazil: is coalitional presidentialism doomed to fail? President Dilma Rousseff’s constitutional occupational accident and new challenges under Bolsonaro’s government

Wim Voermans, Felipe de Paula, Luísa Netto


Taking as central threads the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in August 2016 and Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency so far, the article analyses and assesses the Brazilian institutional design in the light of Juan Linz’s assumption that presidential regimes with multiple parties are a fatal combination. The recent impeachment episodes might be viewed as evidence to that effect. The institutional set-up of the Brazilian constitutional and political system seems to result – as Linz predicted – in a biased use of the traditional political machinery which exists in multiparty presidentialism. But is it actually the set-up itself that is the trigger, or do the political dynamics and the actors involved in this set-up undermine the system? Considering more recent theories, this article takes a more encompassing view of Brazilian coalitional presidentialism and its overall resilience. Adopting a broader framework for our analysis, we distinguish between endemic, structural and non-structural deficits in the presidential and multiparty system in Brazil in relation to the operation of impeachment procedures. This helps us to identify the overall value and effect of constitutional corrective mechanisms and practices which try to address the problems of multiparty presidentialism in Brazil and sheds, we believe, a somewhat more optimistic light on the development of democracy in Brazil. 


presidentialism; multiparty system; coalitional presidentialism; impeachment; Brazil.

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