Understand The Differences Between Senator, Deputy and Councilman

In Brazil people are used to say that politics, soccer and religion can’t be discussed. But it shouldn’t be like this, specially politics, since it is present in everybody’s life - from the simplest organizations to the most complex ones.

To discuss such a difficult subject, it is necessary to understand at least the basic. Thinking about that, Her Campus decided to explain what the senators, deputies and councilors of the Brazilian political system actually do. 

Image Credits: Saemas

#1 Senator

The senator is the figure that represents a state (or the Federal District) in the Legislative. Each state in Brazil has three senators, whose terms last eight years. Senate elections happens every four years and, with them, a third and then two-thirds of the seats are renewed.

Senators are elected through the vote of the population and can be re-elected. Their main functions are to propose, discuss and approve the Brazilian laws.

The way the bills that Senators draft is the following: first they are approved by the Senate, then by the Chamber of Deputies (together, these institutions form the National Congress), and if modified by it, returns to the Senate to be analyzed again. Then, Brazil’s president must approve or deny the proposal. If denied, it returns to the Senate, which will discuss the bill in Congress and may override the presidential ruling by approving the new bill.

Besides that, senators also can inspect the government evaluating the application of public resources, calling for explanations from the ministers, create Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry to investigate specific subjects with depth, approve ministers and other authorities indicated by the presidency of the republic, process and judge authorities and approve budgets and loans.

#2 Deputy

  • Federal: While the senator is the representative of the State in Legislative power, the federal deputy represents the population. They are elected by popular vote and each term lasts four years. The number of deputies by state must be proportional to the population, being at least eight and at most seventy. Just like senators, their mainly functions are propose, discuss and approve laws, but from a perspective that is fair to the population and not to the government. Besides that, they also can debate public politics, create Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry to investigate specific subjects with depth, authorize process against the Presidency of the Republic and State Ministers in case of responsibility crime, approve budgets and charge accountability of the Presidency of the Republic if necessary.

  • State: The state deputy represents the population in the Legislative Assembly (body that represents the Legislative Power in each state). They are elected by popular vote and can stand up to four years in power. Their main function is to make and approve the laws of the states according to the Federal Constitution. In addition to proposing, amending, repealing and derogating the laws of the State, they may organize laws for institutions such as Civil Police and Public Prosecution, judge the government's accountability, oversee administrative actions, fix grants from various positions, set up Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry, define several salary ceilings and to receive and promote process against crime of responsibility committed by governor.  

#3 City Councilor

Councilors are also part of the Legislative Power, and they make, discuss and vote on the approval of municipal laws - which define taxes, education, sanitation, transportation and other matters related to counties. They are elected by popular vote and their term lasts four years.

Council members vote on bills that must then pass the approval of the city's mayor, who can approve or interpose all or part of the proposals. In the case of disapproval, city councilors can accept the decision or not. In addition, councilors can also supervise the country administration and its professionals (such as mayors and public officials), monitor the work of the Executive Power and verify compliance with laws and the use of public money.