Brazil: Colliding Majorities

Brazil needs change, but the political system seems almost designed to frustrate it. Presidents and parliaments reflect different interests – will it be any different this time?

The World Today
4 minute READ

José-Augusto Guilhon-Albuquerque

Professor of International Relations, Department of Economics, University of São Paulo

For the fourth time since the restoration of democracy in 1985, a hundred and fifteen million Brazilian electors are about to choose a new president. Will they confirm the retreat from their country’s long record of instability? For half a century the electoral process has generated two colliding majorities, one supporting the president and the other controlling parliament. This is the key reason for institutional instability.

Despite a new party system after more than twenty years of military rule, the first democratic elections in 1989 produced the most daring presidential adventure ever. While the three leading candidates controlled five percent of the legislature, the two main parties, with more than ninety percent of the seats, achieved less than three percent of the popular vote in the presidential elections.

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