Brazil’s municipal elections, 2012: About Brazil

Brazil is a Federal Republic comprised of 26 states, one federal district and 5,564 municipalities.

Each one of those entities has autonomous administrations and collects its own taxes.

The 1988 constitution established the classic check and balances system, comprising three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.

The president, head of the executive branch, is elected for a four year-term by absolute majority through a two-round system.

The legislative branch, also referred to as the National Congress, is divided into the Chamber of Deputies (513 members, elected every 4 years) and the Federal Senate (81 members, elected every eight years).

The judiciary power is comprised primarily by ordinary courts (Federal and State's judiciaries) and specialised courts (Military, Labour and Electoral courts)

In Brazil it’s compulsory to vote for citizens aged 18-70 – and only voluntary for those 16-18 or the illiterate.

Its voting system is said to enable people who cannot read or write to vote because it allows people to pick a party via a recognisable image.

A study has shown that electronic voting may have even played a role in improving infant health in the country

Military conscripts do not vote in Brazil.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world with an area of 8,514,877 km2, and a population of approximately 196 million people. Although Portuguese is the official language, a considerable amount of native languages are spoken across the nation by Amerindians.

Home of vast natural riches and a buoyant industrial sector, Brazil overtook the United Kingdom in 2011 as the world's seventh largest economy in terms of GDP.