What is parliamentarism and semi-presidentialism? Understand governments suggested by Lira and Barroso – Prime Time Zone


Changes could bring stability, but the system would need to undergo readjustment; currently, in Brazil, the president of the republic is the head of state and also of government

Pablo Valadares/Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of Deputies President Arthur Lira proposed the discussion claiming that change could bring stability to the country

In recent weeks, the discussion about a political reform that would end in the change of the form of government in Brazil has returned to the debate. Earlier this month, the president of Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, proposed the discussion on the grounds that it could bring stability to the country. the ministers of Federal Supreme Court (STF) Luis Roberto Barroso, who is also president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), and Gilmar Mendes advocate changes to the model. the former president himself Michel Temer has already defended this to avoid “traumas” such as impeachment, a process that removed Dilma Rousseff from office and made him president. Since the proclamation of Independence in 1822, the country has undergone some forms of government: monarchy, presidentialism and parliamentarism – this, for the last time, just before the 1964 coup that resulted in the Military Dictatorship (1964-1985).

Today, Brazil lives a presidential republic governed by the president of the republic, who is chosen by the people at the polls. For the change to happen, the agenda should arrive via PEC in the National Congress and go through popular consultation, known as a plebiscite. This discussion has already been carried out twice in the country, in 1963 and 1993. Both times, it was rejected by the majority of the population. According to the International Relations professor at Ibmec, Alexandre Pires, the debate on changes in the government regime usually appears in countries that have frequent processes of political instability. This is the case of the opening of impeachment proceedings, popular revolts, attempts to challenge the president before the electoral period, execution of the removal of presidents from time to time, and the occurrence of dictatorships. “Countries that have a lot of instability tend to look for a solution, which we call a solution from above. They seek to change the political regime in search of greater stability. Often, people think about changing the term of office or reducing it”, he explains.

According to Pires, the choice for models like the parliamentarism it’s the semi-presidentialism it happens when we observe more stable systems in countries that adopt a certain form of government. “Other countries believe that emulation, copying this system, can bring stability. For example, parliamentarism keeps coming back because Great Britain is considered an extremely stable country, even though the no-confidence motions, which is what will trigger the removal of a prime minister, occur frequently. But that doesn’t destabilize the system. That is, this is seen as a normalization factor. In the case of nations like ours, the moment of normalization occurs during electoral periods. In four years there is enough time to see political instabilities that will not find a solution. That is why, in Brazil, the impeachment mechanism has been used almost as a monsoon of mistrust, to allow this regime change before the elections. This is terrible”, he adds.

What would change?

To understand the main changes, it is necessary to understand the roles of a president and a prime minister. The president is the head of state of a republic, such as Brazil. He has a dual role: in addition to heading the state, he is also the government and nation’s representative in foreign affairs. The prime minister, on the other hand, has only one function: to be head of government. “This means that there is another figure that represents the nation. In the case of parliamentarism, a monarch. In the case of semi-presidentialism, a president who does not have executive functions, even if he ratifies the legislative acts”, explains Alexandre.

Parliamentarism, on the other hand, is a system of government in which the head of the executive is chosen by the parliament directly or indirectly, while the head of state is a figure that has inherited this position – a monarch who can be a king, a prince, a great -Duke. This exists in several European countries, such as Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. “It’s a typical system of what we call constitutional monarchy. On the other hand, semi-presidentialism is a system of government in which the head of government continues to be chosen by the parliament, by the legislative house, and can be named prime minister. The head of state is not someone who inherits this position, but someone who was chosen by direct voting, by a popular vote, as in Finland, or it may be by indirect voting, which can also occur through parliament,” he says The specialist.

According to the professor of International Relations, if another model were approved, many challenges would be opened. This is because it is guaranteed in the solid clauses of the Constitution that the country maintains the federative form of State and the idea of ​​direct voting. “This would probably indicate that we cannot create indirect systems of choice. Which would make it very difficult to place an indirect head of government.” The fact is that, if the regime were to be modified, the electoral system would have to undergo a readjustment. “The entire current voting system will have to be changed. This comes into question, even for states and municipalities. The idea of ​​parliamentarism and semi-presidentialism can be transferred to other levels of government. This would be the immediate consequence of a change in the government regime, a change in the electoral system and in the positions that the population can or cannot choose.”