Brazil is a federal republic divided into 26 states and the Federal District of Brasília. It is governed under a constitution adopted in 1988.

Brazil's president is directly elected to a five-year term and is eligible to be reelected to a second term. Brazil's president chooses the ministers of state. There is also a national security council, composed of the president, the vice president, and the chiefs of staff of the armed services.

The National Congress has two houses, the Federal Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate has 81 members, made up of three members from each state, who are elected on a staggered basis for eight-year terms. The 513 members of the Chamber of Deputies serve four-year terms. The number of deputies elected from each state is proportional to that state's population. The Congress meets twice a year for ordinary sessions, but extraordinary sessions may be convened by a one-third vote in either house, or at the request of the president. Voting is compulsory for all citizens age 18 to 70. Above 70, voting is optional.

The judiciary consists of an 11-member supreme court and federal, state, and municipal courts. Judges are appointed by the president subject to approval by the Senate; they serve for life.