Some Parts of the Brazilian Government Actually Aren’t Corrupt. Here’s What They Have in Common.

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Authors: Katherine Bersch, Sérgio Praça, and Matthew M. Taylor, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies
June 20, 2016
Washington Post

The massive “Lava Jato” (car wash) corruption scandal cut a wide swath across the Brazilian political landscape, contributing to public outcry against President Dilma Rousseff. Brazil’s Senate voted to suspend Rousseff in May, pending her impeachment trial on alleged budgetary improprieties.

Rousseff’s Workers’ Party is not the only political party in hot water. Byone count, 59 percent of members of the Brazilian lower house and 58 percent of senators are either under investigation or have been convicted. It might seem as if the whole Brazilian government is rife with corruption. But new data paint a different picture. Yes, Brazil’s political system encourages corruption, but parts of the government work quite well.

Brazil’s odd electoral system contributes to corruption

Brazil’s hybrid electoral system, which combines majoritarian elections for executive office and open-list proportional elections for the lower house of Congress, generates a high level of party fragmentation. Most presidents arrive in office with their parties controlling less than one-fifth of the lower house, even though many reforms require the support of three-fifths of both houses of Congress.

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