Award Date


Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Advisor 1

John P. Tuman

Advisor 2

David Damore

Advisor 3

Andrew Hanson

Number of Pages



Comparatively, the lawmaking process in presidential systems is often comprised of negotiations between a legislative body, tasked with authoring and legislating laws, and an executive, who must authorize and administer the enactment of the law. While executives are often empowered with certain constitutional powers to help influence the lawmaking process, these powers are typically constrained and supervisory in nature. Presidents are rarely given broad-and-discretionary legislative powers, since lawmaking is ultimately the responsibility of the legislative body; however, this does not hold true for the case of Brazil. Following the adoption of Brazil’s 1988 Constitution, Presidents were empowered with the power of Media Provisória, or provisional decree. Conceived as emergency power to address national crises, provisional decrees provides Brazilian presidents with the ability to issue orders, rules, and laws that possess the immediate full effect and force of the law upon issuance, completely independent of the legislative process and the Brazilian National Congress. While these decrees carry the full effect of the law, they ultimately require Congressional approval within 45 days of passage. As an emergency power, provisional decrees ought to be used sparingly; however ideal, this has not been in the case in Brazil, where presidents have used provisional decrees extensively. Rather than work with Congress, Brazilian presidents have historically issued decrees to legislate their policies. In attempt to limit the provisional decrees and regain legislative control, Brazilian legislators adopted Constitutional Amendment 32, which drastically curtailed and reformed the usage of decrees. This has led Brazilian legislators, 3 political scientists, and constitutional scholars to believe that the use of provisional decrees has impacted the regular lawmaking process in Brazil, granting Brazilian executives extraordinary power and influence over the legislature. This paper sought to understand how the executive-legislative relationship in Brazil has changed as a result of provisional decrees and Amendment 32. This paper examined the issuance of provisional decrees, their reissuance, the number of decrees converted into law, and the number of laws passed under the traditional legislative process. The research and analysis in this paper indicates that while decrees have become a dominant tool of Brazilian executives, Amendment 32 has not completely reversed executive dominance in the executive-legislative relationship of the country.


Brazil; Constitutions; Executive-legislative relations; Executive power; Presidents


Liberal Studies | Political Science | Political Theory | Public Administration | Public Affairs