Brazilian presidential inauguration
The inauguration of the President of Brazil is composed of several ceremonies that happen in the same day. Through democratic elections or coups, resignations and deaths, presidential inaugurations have been important events in Brazilian history.
- 1 The ceremonies
- 2 Format of Presidential inaugurations when Rio de Janeiro was the Capital of Brazil
- 3 Inauguration Day
- 4 Form of the Oath of Office
- 5 Recent Inauguration Ceremonies
- 6 Gallery
- 7 References
The only essential part of the inauguration ceremonies, according to Brazil's Federal Constitution, is the taking of the constitutional oath of office before a joint session of the National Congress. However, other ceremonies, such as a parade leading up to the arrival of the president-elect in Congress, the transfer of the presidential sash from the former President to the new holder of the office, and a presidential reception at night also take place in the case of planned inaugurations.
In the case of non-planned inauguration ceremonies (such as those that take place as a result of the death or resignation of a President), the non essential festivities, including the investiture with the presidential sash, do not take place: in those cases, the inauguration of the new President consists only of the joint session of Congress, during which the new President takes the constitutional oath.
The Inaugural Parade
The president-elect and the vice-president elect ride to Congress, where they are to take the oath of office, in a ceremonial parade.
The inauguration parade starts at the Cathedral of Brasília, located at the beginning of Ministries Esplanade. In front of the Cathedral, the President-elect and Vice-President-elect take the presidential Rolls Royce and proceed in parade down the Ministries Esplanade to the National Congress, while escorted by the Independence Dragoons.
A number of Presidents-elect have chosen to attend Mass at the Cathedral of Brasilia before the start of the inaugural ceremonies. In that case, a Solemn Mass is scheduled to take place in the Cathedral before the time set for the beginning of the State-sponsored inauguration ceremonies. The President-elect then hears Mass and leaves the Cathedral at or around the time scheduled for the start of the inauguration parade.
Other Presidents-elect have chosen not to attend Solemn Mass in the Cathedral before the inauguration ceremonies (some have attended no religious service at all, and others, while still attending Mass, opted for a private celebration in the morning of inauguration day instead of a major event in the Cathedral): in that case, instead of proceeding to the Parade from the Cathedral, they simply arrive in front of the Cathedral in their private cars, and at that point enter the presidential State Car for the start of the Parade.
During the parade, the Ceremonial State Cars carrying the President elect and their spouse, the Vice-President elect and their spouse are flanked by a formation of Dragoons from the presidential guard of honor. However, except in the case of a re-elected President and Vice-President, the flagpoles in the Ceremonial State Cars (that usually bear the National Flag and the Presidential or Vice-Presidential Standard) remain empty during that part of the ceremonies, as those being transported are not yet President and Vice-President. The Parade ends at foot of the entrance ramp to the Palace of Congress.
The taking of the oath of office before a joint session of Congress
Arriving at the National Congress, the President and Vice-President elect are greeted by the President of the Senate (the upper house; the president of the Senate is ex officio the President of Congress, and in that capacity chairs all joint sessions) and the President of the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house). Inside the National Congress, a joint session of Congress takes place. The center seat of Congress' directing board's table is taken by the President of Congress. The President-elect of the Republic is seated at the right hand side of the President of Congress, and the Vice President-elect of the Republic seats at the President of Congress's left hand side. Also present at the table together with the members of Congress' directing board, are the President of the Chamber of Deputies, who sits to the right of the President-elect, and the President of the Supreme Federal Court, who sits to the left of the Vice-President elect. Although the President of the Supreme Court is not a member of Congress, he is invited to the table to witness the act. Other members of Congress' directing board (the Vice-Presidents and Secretaries of Congress) take the remaining seats at the table, to the right of the President of the Chamber of Deputies, and to the left of the President of the Supreme Court.
During the joint session, the President of Congress states the purpose of the meeting and acknowledges the recipt of the diplomas of election of the President-elect and of the Vice President-elect, issued by the Superior Electoral Court. All those present are then asked to stand, and the President-elect and the Vice President-elect are successively invited to take the constitutional oath. The President-elect and Vice-President-elect take their oaths of office, and each oath is followed by applause. At that time, immediately upon taking the oaths, they become President and Vice-President of the Republic. As soon as the constitutional oaths are taken before the assembled Congress by both the President and the Vice-President, the new office holders are declared by the President of Congress to be invested in the Presidency and the Vice Presidency of the Republic. The National Anthem is played as soon as the oaths are taken and the declarative announcement by the President of Congress is made. Once the National Anthem ends, one of the Secretaries of Congress reads out the instrument recording the oaths taken and the investiture of the President and Vice-President in their offices. That instrument, a proces-verbal of the constitutionally essential part of the inauguration ceremonies, is written in a special investiture book recording the investiture of all Presidents and Vice-Presidents. The new President and the new Vice-President then sign the instrument recording their investiture, and the document is also signed by the President of Congress, the President of the Chamber of Deputies and other members of Congress' directing board. The document is also signed by the President of the Supreme Federal Court. Once that deed is signed, the President of Congress invites the President of the Republic to address the joint session. The President's inaugural address is then given (the President speaks standing, but from his place at the table), followed by a short speech by the President of Congress, who then finishes thanking the foreign Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers of Foreign Relations and other special envoys for their presence, and also acknowledges and thanks for their presence the members of the diplomatic corps (saluted in the person of the Apostolic Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps), the governors of States, the governor of the Federal District, judicial, civil and military authorities, as well as religious representatives, and after those thanks the President of Congress closes the proceedings of the joint session.
The congressional leaders then escort the new President and the new Vice-President from the Chamber and accompany them to the front ramp of the Palace of Congress.
The military ceremony
Once the President emerges from the National Congress, he pauses at the top of the front ramp of that palace, and, upon sight of the new head of state, a 21-gun salute is immediately fired by the Cayenne Battery. During the firing of the salute, the National Anthem is again played. A brief military ceremony then takes place outdoors.
As the President is the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, he is received at the doors of the National Congress by the Presidential Guard Battalion of the Army, and by Navy and Air Force troops presenting arms.
The President then reviews the troops and salutes their colours. After that, the President and the Vice-President take the ceremonial state cars to the Planalto Palace, the seat of the presidency of the Republic. While, except in the case of a re-elected president, on the parade leading up to Congress the car flagpoles were empty, the car flagpoles now display the National Flag and the Presidential Standard or Vice-Presidential Standard.
The ceremony at the Planalto Palace
Arriving at the Planalto Palace, the new President and Vice-President pause at the foot of the Palace's entrance ramp (only used in state ceremonies), while a military band of the presidential guard plays the Presidential Salute (consisting of the initial and final bars of the Brazilian National Anthem). Once the salute is given, the new President and Vice-President ascend the entrance ramp, and are greeted at its top by the former President and by the former Vice-President. Troops of the 1st Guards Cavalry Regiment, forming a guard of honour, are lined at both sides of the entrance ramp during the entire ceremony. This is the first time the new President and his predecessor meet during the inaugural ceremonies, since the former President and Vice-President take no part in the preceding stages of the inaugural solemnities. The new President and the former President, followed by the new and former Vice-Presidents, then go side by side to the spot where the ceremony of the transfer of the presidential sash is to take place. The former President uses the sash up to the moment when he places it on the shoulder of the new President.
The presidential sash is the insignia that symbolizes the office of the President. In Brazil, the sash was created in December 1910, when it was instituted as a symbol of the presidency by a statute signed into law by President Hermes da Fonseca, Brazil's eighth President. Thus, in Brazil, unlike other Republics, the creation of the sash was not simultaneous with the establishment of the office of President. Also, while in other Latin American countries the transfer of the Presidential Sash takes place before Congress, in Brazil that is not the case. While in other South American countries the reception of the sash by the new President forms part of the essential solemnities of the inauguration, and takes place immediately at the moment of the assumption of office, in Brazil the transfer of the sash, while still highly symbolic of the installation of the new President, is not an essential part of the presidential investiture, and therefore it only takes place in the case of planned inaugurations. Nevertheless, the handover of the sash from the former President to the new office-holder is considered an important symbol of the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next, in accordance with the will of the people and the constitutional order.
Indoors or, more commonly, in the outdoor Parlatorium of the Planalto Palace, the former President hands over the presidential sash to the new President. The National Anthem is played for the third time as soon as the sash is placed over the shoulder of the new President.
In the case of a re-elected President, there is, of course, no ceremony for the handing over of the presidential sash. Instead, the re-invested President merely re-assumes the use of the Sash, and that is not done in the Parlatorium, but before the President's arrival there. Two Brazilian Presidents have been re-elected, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In Cardoso's case, as soon as he re-entered the Planalto Palace after the joint session in the Palace of Congress, he went indoors and received the presidential sash on a cushion. His Chief of Staff placed it on the president's shoulder. The President then went on to present himself at the Parlatorium. In the case of President Lula's re-election, the President received the sash at the foot of the entrance ramp of the Planalto Palace, and thus entered the palace via the ramp already wearing the Sash, going directly to the Parlatorium.
In the outdoor Parlatorium the President (new or re elected), already using the presidential sash, delivers a public address facing the Three Powers Square where the people are assembled.
In the case of a new President, the speech begins as soon as he has received the sash from the former President and the National Anthem has been played, and the former President listens to the speech at the side of the new President. The President then escorts the former President to the main entrance, and the former President and Vice-President walk down the Palace's front ramp. Reaching the foot of the ramp, the former President and Vice-President take official cars that transport them home or to the airport. By entering the car at the foot of the Palace's ramp and being transported away, the former President takes his leave of the official ceremonies of his successor's inauguration.
The parts of the ceremony involving the front ramp of the Planalto Palace are also considered highly symbolic: when the new President and Vice-President walk up the ramp to enter the Palace, this is considered to represent the ascent of the new Chief Executive to power and to the exalted position of the Presidency, whereas the moment when the former President and the former Vice-President walk down the ramp towards the people who are assembled below is regarded as representative of the fact that they have surrendered power to the new Administration, and now become once again ordinary citizens of the Republic. In reality, however, there is no actual transfer of power taking place at the above mentioned symoblic moments: the term of office of the predecessor had ended since midnight, and at that moment the four-year term of office of the successor began. His four-year term having started, the successor entered into office immediately upon taking the oath, while the predecessor, disvested of the power of the presidency since midnight, was allowed to continue to use the presidential sash until the moment in the ceremonies when the sash is transferred, and reside in Planalto Palace until the moment in the ceremonies when the solemnly descends the front ramp, only as a matter of ceremony and protocol. The ceremonies only emphasise, with their symblolic ritual, the reality of the change of government.
If the former president desires to leave the city of Brasilia immediately after leaving the Palace, he is usually allowed the courtsey of a last trip in the presidential airplane, that takes the former president to his hometown or to another Brazilian city of his choice. During the flight, however, the airplane does not bear the callsign "Brazilian Air Force One", as the passenger is no longer the President of the Republic. Usually, when the plane carrying the former President arrives at its destination, the former President is received at the Airport by a gathering of his political supporters.
The first duty of the new President is to appoint the Minister of Justice and the rest of the Cabinet. Thus, when the former President has left Planalto Palace, the new President goes indoors and enters a hall of the Planalto Palace where his future Cabinet and several guests are already waiting. There the investiture of the President's Cabinet takes place. The President first signs a decree appointing the Minister of Justice. The appointed Minister then comes forward to sign the investiture book. After the Minister of Justice signs the investiture book, the President proceeds to appoint the remainder of the Cabinet members, signing decrees that are counter-signed by the Minister of Justice.
When each decree is signed, the appointed Minister comes forward and signs the investiture book. Once the entire Cabinet has been invested, the general officers chosen as professional commanders of each branch of the Armed Forces (who discharge their duties under the Minister of Defence, a civilian), are appointed and invested by the President, who is ex officio the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Then follows the appointment and investiture of other senior officers of the Executive branch, such as Cabinet-level officials of the Presidency of the Republic.
Once all the Cabinet and Cabinet-level officers have been invested, the act of their investiture usually ends with a "family photo" of the new Administration around the new President and Vice-President. For this photo, the new Ministers alignment and proximity to the President is dictated by the order of precedence, with the Ministers who head older Departments standing in the first row, and the heads of the newer Departments standing in the back rows. Some Departments, such as the Department of Defence, take precedence from prior Departments now abolished.
When the all the Cabinet, the professional commanders of each branch of the Armed Forces and other senior executive officials have been appointed and invested, the President then goes to another hall of the Palace: a queue is formed and the new President greets one by one the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the Heads of mission and other foreign envoys. Once all official foreign representatives have had the opportunity to greet the new President, he then goes on to greet other Brazilian authorities, such as Supreme Court justices, Congressional leaders and State Governors, as well as representatives of the civil society, such as Brazilian Cardinals, rabbis, etc.
For the inauguration of President Dilma Rousseff, the usual order of the presidential first duties was slightly reversed: first the new President greeted the foreign Heads of State, Heads of Government and official envoys, and only then she proceeded to the ceremony of the investiture of the Cabinet and Cabinet-level officers. After that ceremony of investiture and the taking of the "family photo" of the Administration, the President went on to receive the Brazilian authorities and the representatives of civil society. This change in protocol, with the meeting of the foreign representatives preceding the investiture of the Cabinet and Cabinet-level officers, was adopted so that the foreign representatives would not be left waiting for too long before having an opportunity to shake hands and exchange a few words with the President. However the ceremonial downside of the new arrangement was that, during the meeting with the queue of foreign representatives, the President of the Republic had at her side the soon-to-be Minister of Foreign Relations, but the Minister-in-waiting was not yet formally appointed and invested in his office. It is unknown whether this new arrangement of the first duties will prevail in future inaugurations.
At the night of the inauguration, the President holds a formal reception at the Alvorada Palace, the presidential residence, or at Brasilia's Itamaraty Palace, the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. This reception is often a ball with dinner, and traditionally the presidential ball was a white-tie event (white-tie events are very rare in Brazil). However, Presidents Lula da Silva and Rousseff have opted for less formal and less lavish parties, and have instead hosted more simple cocktails, to which guests were expected to attend in suit and tie.
Format of Presidential inaugurations when Rio de Janeiro was the Capital of Brazil
The ceremonies were different but had a similar format. They started at Tiradentes Palace (former home of the Chamber of Deputies) where the President took the oath of office before a joint session of Congress and delivered an inaugural address. He then proceeded in parade to the Catete Palace (the presidential residence and workplace) in the ceremonial state car. After receiving the presidential sash indoors, in the presence of dignataries and guests assembled in one of the Halls of Catete Palace, the President appeared on the balcony and addressed the crowds. Some Presidents, instead of appearing in the balcony to deliver the speech facing the people, chose to deliver the address in the same hall of the Catete Palace where the ceremoial transfer of the presidential sash took place (in the early days of the Republic, the president only took the oath before Congress, without delivering a speech in the presence of the Legislature; thus, in those days, the Catete Palace speech was the only inaugural address delivered by a new President; the later addition of a speech before Congress created the situation of the President delivering two speeches on inauguration day, a situation that continued after the Capital's transfer to Brasilia and that remains to this day). The new president then escorted the former President as he left the presidential palace. The appointments, greetings and reception were held at the Catete Palace.
In the Old Republic era (Republica Velha), that lasted from 1889 until 1930, the Constitution adopted on February 24, 1891 established that the first presidential term would finish in 1894; the President and Vice-President for the first presidential term would be elected by the Constitent Congress as soon as the Constitution was promulgated under the transitional provisions of that document (the first presidential inauguration took place on 26 February 1891). Subsequent Presidents were, as per the permanent provisions of the Constitution, elected by direct popular ballot. Presidential elections were held on 1 March in the last year of a presidential term, and new Presidents were inaugurated on 15 November (the anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic). Accordingly, 15 November was inauguration day during the Old Republic era. The first inauguration under the permanent provisions of the Constitution took place on 15 November 1894.
In the wake of the 1930 Revolution, the Constitution adopted on 16 July 1934, in its transitional provisions, empowered the Constituent Assembly to elect the President for the first Presidential term. Chosen by the Constituent Assembly, Getúlio Vargas, until then Head of the Provisional Government, took office as President on 20 July 1934. Subsequent Presidents would be elected by direct popular ballot and the next President would take office on 3 May 1938. Accordingly, 3 May would be Inauguration Day under the 1934 Constitution. This Constitution was however short-lived due to the presidential coup d'etát of 10 November 1937, so that no presidential elections were held under its permanent provisions.
Under the Constitution imposed by President Vargas on 10 November 1937, the Brazilian Government was in effect a dictatorship. The referendum announced in the Constitution, in which the people would confirm or reject the new constitutional system, was never held (the date of that referendum was never set by the Government). The Constitution nominally established a six-year presidential term, with the first Presidential term starting on the date of adoption the Constitution, but another provision of the document allowed the serving President (Vargas) to remain in office until the referendum on the Constitution was held. The said Constitutional provision indicated that, if the Constitution was confirmed in the referendum, then Vargas would complete his six-year presidential term. Thus, the referendum should have taken place in the first six years of the Constitution, but that was not done: Vargas ignored the duration of the presidential term mandated by the Constitution that he had imposed. In reality therefore, after the 1937 coup, Vargas retained power for more than the six-year period that had been announced, ruling Brazil as dictator for almost eight years, from his coup d'etát in November 1937 until his deposition in October 1945.
When Vargas were deposed, new elections were summoned for a Constituent Assembly and a President, both chosen by direct popular ballot. The first presidential term subsequent to the deposition of the Estado Novo dictatorship began on 31 January 1946, and the Constitution adopted on 18 September 1946 established five-year presidential terms, but did not change the Inauguration Day. Accordingly, the subsequent five-year presidential terms also started on 31 January.
In the wake of the 1964 military coup, it was established that the President elected in April 1964 would serve until 31 January 1966. Marshal Castelo Branco subsequently extended his term until March 1967, by establishing that his successor would be inaugurated on 15 March 1967. On that same date, a new Constitution entered into force. Under the 1967 Constitution, 15 March remained as the presidential inauguration day.
With the adoption of Brazil's current Constitution, promulgated on 5 October 1988 in the wake of the country's transition to democracy, it was established in the permanent constitutional provisions that the presidential term of office would begin on 1 January.
The transitional constitutional provisions however stipulated that the mandate of the then serving President of the Republic would continue until he completed five years in office. Accordingly, the transitional provisions of the Constitution established that the first presidential elections under the Constitution, by direct popular ballot, would be held in 1989 and that the President and Vice-President elect would be sworn-in on 15 March 1990. A 1993 Constitutional Amendment reduced the presidential term of office from five to four years. Accordingly, President Collor, the first President elected under the 1988 Constitution was sworn-in on 15 March 1990, but his presidential term would only end on 31 December 1995. Collor resigned the presidency in December 1992 and, was succeeded by Itamar Franco. His term of office was shortened by the Constitutional Amendment that reduced the duration of presidential terms from five to four years. As a result, Itamar Franco served until 31 December 1994, and, since 1995, Inauguration Day has been on 1 January as dictated by the permanent provisions of the Federal Constitution. Fernando Henrique Cardoso was the first President of Brazil to be inaugurated on January 1, the current Inauguration Day under the permanent provisions of the Constitution adopted in 1988.
Form of the Oath of Office
The oath of office taken by the President and by the Vice President, officially known as the compromisso constitucional (constitutional commitment;constitutional pledge), is prescribed by article 78 of the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil. The Federal Constitution currently in force in Brazil was promulgated on October 5, 1988.
Article 78 of the Constitution prescribes that "the President and the Vice-President of the Republic shall assume their offices in a sitting of the National Congress, by taking the pledge to maintain, defend and uphold the Constitution, observe the Laws, promote the general welfare of the Brazilian people, and to sustain the union, the integrity and the independence of Brazil" (O Presidente e o Vice-Presidente da República tomarão posse em sessão do Congresso Nacional, prestando o compromisso de manter, defender e cumprir a Constituição, observar as leis, promover o bem geral do povo brasileiro, sustentar a união, a integridade e a independência do Brasil).
No words are added to the oath, so that the constitutional commitment consists only of the vow prescribed by the Constitution. Not even the names of the officers taking the oath are added to the formula. Accordingly, the form of the oath of office, for both the President and the Vice-President, runs as follows:
"I promise to preserve, defend and uphold the Constitution, observe the Laws, promote the general welfare of the Brazilian people, and to sustain the union, the integrity and the independence of Brazil" (Prometo manter, defender e cumprir a Constituição, observar as Leis, promover o bem geral do povo brasileiro, sustentar a união, a integridade e a independência do Brasil).
Recent Inauguration Ceremonies
Inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had the most popular presidential inauguration in history. Citizens from all corners of Brazil went to the national capital for the inauguration ceremony. There were 3 innovations:
- Concerts before the ceremony for those who arrived early. One main stage at Square of the Three Powers and others around the Ministries Esplanade.
- Projection screens were placed around the Ministries Esplanade and secondary rooms of National Congress and Planalto Palace, allowing everyone to follow the televised ceremony.
- A second presidential parade was held after the official ceremonies, for the President to pass through the crowds and greet them.
Inauguration of Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Rousseff was inaugurated as President of Brazil on January 1, 2011. The event – which was organized by her transitional team, the Ministries of External Relations and Defense and the Presidency of the Republic – was awaited with some expectation, since she became the first woman to hold the office of President. Important female figures in Brazilian history were honored with panels spread across the Monumental Axis.
Until December 21, 2010, the publishing house of the Senate had printed 1,229 invitations for Rousseff's inauguration. The National Congress had expected a total of 2,000 guests for the ceremony. As reported by the press, between 14 and 17 heads of state and government had confirmed their presence. Among them were José Sócrates, Juan Manuel Santos, Mauricio Funes, Alan García, José Mujica, Hugo Chávez, Álvaro Colom, Alpha Condé, Sebastián Piñera, Evo Morales, and Boyko Borisov. U.S. President Barack Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to represent him. Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso also attend.
In addition to the formal ceremony, Rousseff's inauguration also featured concerts by five female Brazilian singers: Elba Ramalho, Fernanda Takai, Mart'nália and Zélia Duncan, and Gaby Amarantos. The Ministry of Culture organized the cultural part of the event, having provided a budget of 1.5 million reais (around 0.8 million U.S. dollars) for it. The concerts started at 10:00 hours (local time) and stopped at 14:00 hours, with the start of the official inauguration ceremony. The concerts continued at 18:00 hours until 21:00 hours. Rousseff did not attend, as she held a reception at the Itamaraty Palace to foreign authorities which attended her inauguration. Each foreign authority had the opportunity to talk to her for 30 seconds.
The President delivers the inaugural address at the National Congress
The President reviews the troops of the Presidential Guard Battalion
The President delivers a public address at the Parlatorium of the Planalto Palace
21-gun salute being fired by members of the Cayenne Battery
The inauguration parade of President Rousseff
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- Information and pictures regarding the presidential inauguration Presidency of Brazil. Retrieved on 2009-07-25. (Portuguese)
- Decree no. 70,274 - Presidential Inauguration Ceremonial Presidency of Brazil. Retrieved on 2010-11-05. (Portuguese)