Presidential Preferences? The Supreme Federal Tribunal Nominations in Democratic Brazil



This article studies the processes of nomination and appointment to the Supreme Federal Tribunal in Brazil made by Presidents Sarney through Lula da Silva. It shows that in relations with the Senate, presidential anticipation prevails over presidential dominance. Brazilian presidents are successful appointers because they invest great effort in the moment of selection, when potential candidates are tested in the juridical and political communities. As a consequence, a uniform Senate approval of candidates coexists with a differential pattern of candidate recruitment. Sometimes presidents can select close candidates from their government; sometimes first-choice candidates are ruled out for lack of consensus. The type of coalition the president heads and the number of vacancies available affect the president's chances of imposing a candidate. The filter posed by center-right parties in the Senate induces the selection of nominees with centrist preferences.