Impeachment Isn’t A US Creation, But It’s Rarely Used Around The World

Impeachment was invented in the United Kingdom, where it’s seldom used today.

By Joy DiazDecember 13, 2019 2:19 pm

Americans know that the power to impeach a president is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. And many think of it as a uniquely American creation. But impeachment was a thing before there was a United States, and a few other countries also have access to this rarely used power.

In Latin America, only Peru and Brazil can impeach their presidents. Brazil impeached its president less than four years ago

Rick Noack is a Washington Post reporter based in Berlin who’s been exploring how, and to what extent, other Western-style democracies use impeachment. He says the British were the first to incorporate the power of impeachment into their laws.

“At the time, it was seen as a way to respond to the mood of the people,” Noack says, “to be able to dispose of officials and ministers who were seen in an unfavorable light by the British public.”

But Noack says impeachment has fallen out of favor in the U.K., which has a parliamentary government. Under that system, it’s much easier to get rid of an unpopular leader through electoral means.

Noack says some in Europe admire the U.S. impeachment process for its deliberative nature, allowing Congress to control the process of judging a leader.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.