Principal Government Officials
Chief of State: President Dilma Rousseff
Head of Government: President Dilma Rousseff
Brazil is a federal republic with 26 states and a federal district. The 1988 constitution grants broad powers to the federal government, made up of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The president holds office for 4 years, with the right to re-election for an additional 4-year term, and appoints the cabinet. There are 81 senators, three for each state and the Federal District, and 513 deputies. Senate terms are 8 years, staggered so that two-thirds of the upper house is up for election at one time and one-third 4 years later. Chamber terms are 4 years, with elections based on a complex system of proportional representation by states. Each state is eligible for a minimum of eight seats; the largest state delegation (Sao Paulo's) is capped at 70 seats. This system is weighted in favor of geographically large but sparsely populated states.
Several political parties are represented in Congress. Since representatives to the lower house might switch parties, the proportion of congressional seats held by particular parties can change. Brazil's major political parties include:
Workers' Party (PT-center-left)
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB-center)
Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB-center)
Green Party (PV-center-left)
Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL-left)
Brazilian Labor Party (PTB-center-right)
Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB-center-left)
Democratic Labor Party (PDT-center-left)
Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB-left)
Progressive Party (PP-center-right)
Party of the Republic (PR-center-right)
Brazilian Republican Party (PRB-center)
Christian Social Party (PSC-center)
Social Democratic Party (PSD-center-right)
Brazil has traditionally been a leader in the inter-American community. It has played an important role in collective security efforts, as well as in economic cooperation in the Western Hemisphere. Brazil supported the Allies in both World Wars. During World War II, its expeditionary force in Italy played a key role in the Allied victory at Monte Castello. It is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a party to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty). Recently, Brazil has given high priority to expanding relations with its South American neighbors and is a founding member of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI); the Union of South American Nations (UNASUL) created in June 2004; and Mercosul, the customs union of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil, with Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador as associate members; Venezuela's full membership is pending.
Brazil is a charter member of the United Nations and participates in its specialized agencies. It has contributed troops to UN peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cyprus, Mozambique, Angola, East Timor, and most recently Haiti. Brazil is currently leading the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti. In 2010-2011, Brazil served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Prior to this, it had been a member of the UN Security Council nine times. Brazil is seeking a permanent position on the Council.
As Brazil's domestic economy has grown and diversified, the country has become increasingly involved in international economic and trade policy discussions. For example, Brazil was a leader of the G-20 group of nations and in 2009 became a creditor country to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The U.S., Western Europe, and Japan are primary markets for Brazilian exports and sources of foreign lending and investment. China is a growing market for Brazilian exports. Brazil also bolstered its commitment to nonproliferation through ratification of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signing a full-scale nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), acceding to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Sources:CIA World Factbook (November 2011)
U.S. Dept. of State Country Background Notes ( November 2011)