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Prime Ministers of Brazil: Wikis

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The Duke of Caxias, was the foremost and most remembered Prime Minister of Brazil, having served three terms.

During two periods in the political history of Brazil was a parliamentary system of Government put in place, with a prime minister heading the Cabinet.

The first parliamentary system was created by Emperor Pedro II and was maintained for the last forty two years of the imperial period.

The second occasion in which a parliamentary system was put in place was during the administration of President João Goulart in 1961, due to a constitutional amendment passed by his opponents before his inauguration. The experience of parliamentary government was very brief, as the system of presidential government was restored in a referendum in 1963.

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President of the Council of Ministers of the Brazilian Empire (1847-1889)

The political position of Prime Minister of Brazil existed during the era of the Empire of Brazil, first being created in 1847, during the reign of Dom Pedro II.

Officially, the title of the Prime Minister was President of the Council of Ministers and he was referred to by the press and the people as President of the Cabinet.

The written Constitution of the Brazilian Empire did not require the Emperor to appoint a prime minister; nor did it provide for a parliamentary system of government, instead vesting the Executive authority in the Emperor himself, and stipulating that the Emperor was to be aided by ministers that he was free to appoint and dismiss. However, Emperor Pedro II decided to appoint a president of the Council among his ministers, to lead the workings of the Government. He also chose to create a sort of parliamentary government, whereby the prime minister would be someone who could command a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower House of the Brazilian Imperial Parliament, known as General Assembly. Therefore, even without being required by the Constitution, the Emperor started to exercise his authority in a manner compatible with parliamentary government, only appointing as prime minister someone who could retain parliamentary support, etc.

However, the emperor didn't become a figurehead monarch like other heads of State in a parliamentary system. The prime minister needed to retain the political confidence both of a majority of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Emperor, who actively scrutinized the workings of the Government. Sometimes the Emperor would dissolve the Chamber of Deputies and summon new elections (a power he possessed under the Constitution), or dismiss the prime minister, due to his own political beliefs about the efficiency of the Government. Thus, the Emperor would often dismiss a prime minister, and then appoint someone else from the same party. All this led to a succession of short-lived Cabinets. The emperor retained decision-making powers with regard to the signature or veto of bills passed by Parliament, and would not always abide by the advice of his ministers. And that was seen as normal given that the monarch wasn't required by the Constitution to reign in a parliamentary system, and the establishment of one was only a limited and voluntary decision of Pedro II.

Therefore, the parliamentary system voluntarily established by Emperor Pedro II wasn't identical to the standard of a parliamentary government with a Head of State that reigns but does not govern, given that the Emperor retained part of the control over the daily affairs of his government.

Thus, the parliamentary system that was put in place in the reign of Pedro II can be termed a semi-imperial Government, and can be compared to the political system of some republics, such as France, that are governed under a semi-presidential system, in which the Head of State has more than just the customary reserve powers, but there is also a prime minister who needs to maintain the confidence of Parliament in order to retain his office.

This co-existence of a Head of State with real powers and influence with a prime minister responsible before Parliament was dubbed by many Brazilian political scientists as parlamentarismo às avessas (backwards parliamentarism), a criticism corresponding to their view that, in the parliamentary system created by Emperor Pedro II, the Chamber of Deputies was the weaker party, constantly being dissolved, and the survival of the Cabinet depended more on the confidence of the Emperor than in that of Parliament.

The position of prime minister was abolished with the deposition of the monarchy in 1889.

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List of Presidents of the Council of Ministers of the Empire of Brazil

Name Took Office Left Office Party
Manuel Alves Branco 22 August 1847 8 March 1848 Liberal Party
Viscount of Macaé 8 March 1848 31 March 1848 Liberal Party
Francisco de Paula Sousa e Melo 31 March 1848 29 September 1848 Liberal Party
Viscount, later Marquis of Olinda 29 September 1848 8 October 1849 Conservative Party
Marquis of Monte Alegre 8 October 1849 11 May 1852 Conservative Party
Viscount of Itaborai 11 May 1852 6 September 1853 Conservative Party
Marquis of Paraná 6 September 1853 3 September 1856 Conservative Party
Duke of Caxias (then Marquis) 3 September 1856 4 May 1857 Conservative Party
Marquis of Olinda 4 May 1857 12 December 1858 Conservative Party
Viscount of Abaete 12 December 1858 10 August 1859 Conservative Party
Baron of Uruguaiana 10 August 1859 2 March 1861 Conservative Party
Duke of Caxias (then Marquis) 2 March 1861 24 May 1862 Conservative Party
Zacarias de Góis e Vasconcelos 24 May 1862 30 May 1862 Progressive League
Marquis of Olinda 30 May 1862 15 January 1864 Progressive League
Zacarias de Góis e Vasconcelos 15 January 1864 31 August 1864 Progressive League
Francisco José Furtado 31 August 1864 12 May 1865 Liberal Party
Marquis of Olinda 12 May 1865 3 August 1866 Liberal Party
Zacarias de Góis e Vasconcelos 3 August 1866 16 July 1868 Liberal Party
Viscount of Itaborai 16 July 1868 29 September 1870 Conservative Party
Viscount, later Marquis of São Vicente 29 September 1870 7 March 1871 Conservative Party
Viscount of Rio Branco 7 March 1871 25 June 1875 Conservative Party
Duke of Caxias 25 June 1875 5 January 1878 Conservative Party
Viscount of Sinimbu 5 January 1878 28 March 1880 Liberal Party
José Antônio Saraiva 28 March 1880 21 January 1882 Liberal Party
Martinho Alvares da Silva Campos 21 January 1882 3 July 1883 Liberal Party
Viscount, later Marquis of Paranagua 3 July 1882 24 May 1883 Liberal Party
Lafayette Rodrigues Pereira 24 May 1883 6 June 1884 Liberal Party
Manuel Pinto de Sousa Dantas 6 June 1884 6 May 1885 Liberal Party
José Antônio Saraiva 6 May 1885 20 August 1885 Liberal Party
Baron of Cotegipe 20 August 1885 10 March 1888 Conservative Party
João Alfredo Correia de Oliveira 10 March 1888 7 June 1889 Conservative Party
Viscount of Ouro Preto 7 June 1889 15 November 1889 Liberal Party

President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Brazil (1961-1963)

The newly installed government choose the republican presidential system, and did not adopt a parliamentary government, except for a brief period (September 8, 1961 to January 24, 1963) during the government of President João Goulart. The parliamentary system was again abolished, this time by plebiscite, in January 1963.

List of Prime Ministers of the Republic of Brazil

Name Took Office Left Office Party
Tancredo de Almeida Neves 8 September 1961 12 July 1962 Social Democratic Party
Francisco de Paula Brochado da Rocha 12 July 1962 18 September 1962 Social Democratic Party
Hermes Lima 18 September 1962 1 January 1963 Social Democratic Party

See also


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