No Need for a New Constitution in Brazil

In two recent articles, published in English and Portuguese, Professor Bruce Ackerman argued that the roots of Brazil’s political crisis, with the rise of extremist factions to power, is the 1988 Constitution and the presidential system it established. Under Ackerman’s account, the best response to such crisis would be to convene a new Constituent Assembly in 2023 in order to set up a parliamentary system, while also allowing the constituent delegates to “reconsider key decisions by the Assembly of 1988”. In this article, we intend to engage in this debate by explaining why the intent to promulgate a new Constitution might make things even worse.

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Undercutting Internet Governance in Brazil

On June 30, 2020, the Brazilian Senate approved Draft Bill No. 2.630 of 2020, also known as “The Fake News Bill”. This bill applies to internet platforms with over 2 million users and seeks to address the warranted concerns presented by the recent spread of online disinformation and defamatory content. As it currently stands, the bill does little to address the individuals and organizations who finance the spread of fake news across social media platforms in Brazil. It also poses threats to user privacy, access to the internet, and freedom of association.

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Judicial Responses to Bolsonarism: The Leading Role of the Federal Supreme Court

Criticism against the Brazilian judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, has been on the rise in the past couple of decades. Under Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, however, courts are experiencing a more radical and dangerous form of opposition, which transcends the borders of legitimate criticism and undertakes a direct attack on the judicial branch. This must be understood in light of the Federal Supreme Court’s backlash against Bolsonaro’s maneuvers to flame his supporters and violate the Brazilian Constitution of 1988. This article aims at recollecting the most important rulings and procedures that take part in this reaction.

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The ‘Constitutional Military Inter­vention’: Brazil on the Verge of Democratic Breakdown

After numerous judicial defeats in the past couple of months, Bolsonaro chose to travel down the path of intimidation and defiance rather than institutional reform: Through dubious constitutional interpretation, he and his supporters are ascribing to the armed forces the role of a “constitutional moderator” in order to undermine the independence of the Supreme Court.

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Impeachment, und dann?

In den letzten Tagen wurde Brasilien von der gravierendsten politischen Krise seit dem Antritt der aktuellen Regierung erschüttert: Sergio Moro, der Superjustizminister des Kabinettes Bolsonaros, ist wegen interner Dispute mit dem Präsidenten zurückgetreten. Gleichzeitig schwindet Bolsonaros Rückhalt im Parlament, was auch ein Amtsenthebungsverfahren gegen ihn wahrscheinlicher werden lässt. Tatsächlich haben die letzten Jahre jedoch gezeigt, dass das Amtsenthebungsverfahren kein wirksames Mittel ist, um die Stabilität und somit die Demokratie Brasiliens zu stärken.

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Pushing the Boundaries of Legal Normality

The Brazilian Emergency Constitution is still dormant, instead “legislative and executive apparatuses” are used to “enforce measures for protecting public health”. But that does not mean, that emergency powers in Brazil are not yet in reach: While we patiently wait for the Emergency Constitution to wake up from its doctrinal sleep, legislation has already bypassed it and is venturing into uncharted territory.

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Why Bolsonaro Needs to Be Impeached

Brazil’s longstanding political crisis already looked like the worst-case scenario, but it was surmounted by a further explosive element: the COVID-19 health crisis. Populist executive leaders seem to have responded too late to the dangers of this pandemic, but all of them appear be at least aware of the political effects of their policies. Bolsonaro seems to be taking a higher risk, adopting a position that indicates that his institutional support might be vanishing and pushing him towards direct support by his popular sympathizers.

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Threats to Brazilian Democracy Gain Traction

Democracy in Brazil is under attack and facing a significant level of backsliding. The developments in recent years, from Dilma Rousseff’s parliamentary coup to Jair Bolsonaro’s ascent to power, have shown that democracy erodes in an incremental process. Lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro has recently taken another step in that direction when he publicly suggested that a 1964-1985 dictatorship’s decree should be repeated in case the Brazilian left-wing movements took a more radical position. His statements are prohibited under Brazilian law and Brazil’s institutions need to hold Eduardo Bolsonaro accountable in order to put brakes on the country’s democratic decline.

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