A System of Democracy
Brazil is today regarded as one of the foremost medical tourism destinations in the world. For many years, however, the country was known more for the numerous coups and military takeovers that seemed to take place with unfailing regularity than for medical tourism. In the mid-nineteenth century, in particular, it seemed as if the country was doomed to follow in the footsteps of other South American nations like Argentina and Chile that had experimented with military rule, usually with bloody results. Happily however, the country has managed to throw off the shackles of military rule, and for several decades now, has been a functioning democracy. In fact, it is the 4th largest democracy in the world. The system isn’t without its problems, however. As with so many other developing nations, true political power and wealth are reserved for the tiny upper crusts of society.
Brazil is a presidential republic. The president here is both head of state and head of government. He is elected by universal suffrage (all citizens above the age of 16 are allowed to vote), and serves a 5-year term in office. All executive power is vested in the government, while legislative power rests with the government and the two chambers of the National Congress. The judiciary is independent of the legislature and the executive.
Until as recently as 1964, president and vice presidents were allowed to campaign on different party tickets. This lead to extreme conflict and confusion. When President Vargas committed suicide in 1954, and President Quadros resigned in 1961, their vice presidents took decisions that led to severe national crises, prompting takeover by the military. Since 1964, however the president and the vide president have campaigned on the same ticket to avoid such situations.
LegislatureThe legislature is composed of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Chamber of Deputies has 513 members, while the Senate consists of 81 members. Medical tourism vacationers in Brazil will be interested to know that legislators in Brazil enjoy almost complete parliamentary immunity, even in cases like capital crimes.