At a Glance:
Year became a federation: 1889
Current constitution in force since:1988
Constituent units: 26 estados (English: states), 1 federal district
Head of State: President [Portuguese]
Head of Government: President [Portuguese]
Our work in Brazil:
Since 2000 the Forum has worked with local partners in Brazil to organize learning events ranging from a conference on co-operative federalism to an event as part of the UN 5th World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro.
Federalism in Brazil:
The 26 states of Brazil have significant powers under its Constitution, which was produced by a constitutional assembly in 1988. Three orders of government are recognized: central, state and municipal; and a process of fiscal and political decentralization was ushered in with the new constitution.
The division of revenues from Brazil’s state value added tax (VAT) is a continuing issue for the federal system in South America’s most populous nation. Another challenge for Brazil’s federal system will be the division of future revenues from newly-discovered offshore oil resources. In both cases the major challenge of the Brazilian government is to achieve consensus among Brazil's constituent units on the sharing of wealth with the aim of reducing regional inequalities.
Brazil won its independence from Portugal in 1822 and became a monarchy with a unitary form of government. Slavery was abolished in 1888, then a republican alliance deposed the king in 1889 and proclaimed Brazil a federal country. A revolution in 1930 reduced the autonomy of Brazil’s states. That regime was overthrown by the military in 1945 and the federal system was reinstalled, along with an electoral system that included competitive nation-wide parties for the first time in the history of the republic. The military regime that took power in 1964 kept an emasculated form of the federal system, but democracy returned in 1985 and the new federal government allowed direct elections for the state governments.
* Development assistance program countries