Criticism of the judiciary system in Brazil

Feb. 16, 2018 Weekly Graphs

On 24 January, a Brazilian appeals court upheld the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s conviction for corruption. This same week, a federal judge in Brazil confiscated Lula’s passport, banning him from leaving the country. Amid claims that he is a victim of political persecution, Lula believes the judges failed to produce incriminating evidence against him. He is one of the many top politicians currently being investigated for corruption, including Michel Temer, the current president.

This week’s graph looks at how often governments in Brazil criticize their national judiciary systems. V-Dem’s “Government attacks on judiciary” indicator measures how often the government attacked the judiciary’s integrity in public. It stretches along a five point scale, progressing from daily or weekly attacks on the courts to rare or no attacks.

The graph examines the Brazilian performance regarding criticism of the judiciary system from the end of its military dictatorship, in 1985, until the present day. The situation in Brazil remained stable until the early 2000s, but it started to marginally oscillate in 2005 and 2006 following the vote-buying scandal (‘Mensalão’), involving Lula’s government. The relationship of the Brazilian government with the courts deteriorated from 2014 onwards. After a turbulent electoral campaign, Dilma Rousseff’s government became increasingly entangled in a web of corruption allegations and intrigues, resulting in her impeachment in 2016. Corruption cases involving high-rank politicians are still being investigated and judged, resulting not only in attacks by the government on the judiciary’s integrity and power, but also by the opposition. 

If you want to learn more about Brazil’s relationship with the judiciary, use our online analysis tools at


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