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e-Pública: Revista Eletrónica de Direito Público

versión On-line ISSN 2183-184X


QUEIROZ, Rafael Mafei Rabelo. Impeachable offenses in the Brazilian Law of Presidential High Crimes: lessons from the Dilma Rousseff case. e-Pública [online]. 2017, vol.4, n.2, pp.220-245. ISSN 2183-184X.

The article faces an old question of Brazilian Public Law that gained momentum in 2016, amidst the trial and ousting of former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. It regards the nature of impeachable offenses [crimes de responsabilidade] in Brazilian Law. Brazilian legal culture has held a century long debate on whether those “crimes” are of a strictly criminal nature, or whether they are political wrongdoings in a broader sense. Many of those who wrote on this topic over 2016 have assumed that holding impeachable offenses to the standard of indictable criminal offenses would bring more stability to Brazil's presidential regime. This article confronts that opinion. I draw on evidence from the history of Brazilian public law doctrine, from comparative law (USA) and from the current political science literature on the topic to reaffirm that presidential impeachable offenses in Brazil need not be of strictly criminal nature. I seek to show how this view is not only wrong, but it also fails to promote the desired political stability in Brazil's presidential system.  Summary: 1. Introduction: defining the problem and its current relevance; 2. My argument and its structure in this paper; 3. Origins of a terminological confusion: historical and comparative evidence. 4. Impeachable presidential offenses: arguments in favor of their strictly criminal nature; 5. Impeachable presidential offenses: arguments in favor of their political nature; 6. The legal and the political; 7. Concluding remark.

Palabras clave : Brazil; presidential impeachment; impeachable offenses; political crimes; comparative law.

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