The Economist: House of horrors!!!


Brazil's scandal-plagued Senate
House of horrors

Jul 9th 2009 | SÃO PAULO
From The Economist print edition

What Britain’s MPs might learn from Brazilian Senators

THE president of Brazil’s Senate sits in a fine blue leather chair designed by Oscar Niemeyer, a celebrated Brazilian architect. Comfortable it may be, but its occupants have also found it to be an insecure perch. Three senate presidents have been suspended or have resigned because of scandals in the past eight years. Now a fourth, José Sarney, a former president of Brazil and part-time novelist, is teetering.

The Senate has just 81 members but somehow they require almost 10,000 staff to take care of them. Many of these are appointed as favours to senators’ friends or political supporters. One former staffer says that his fellow-employees used to say that the senate was like a mother to them. Others liken it to a country club. The benefits of membership include free health insurance for life for all senators and their families, generous pension arrangements and housing allowances. This much was already familiar to Brazilians and, perhaps, not so different from the goings on in many other legislatures around the world. continua

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