Saturday, September 14, 2019

Brazilian Democratic Transition And Consolidation

Brazilian Democratic Transition And Consolidation Brazil, which is the largest country in South America and fifth largest country in the world, is also a political and economic leader in its continent. However, among the many nascent Latin American democracies, Brazil’s road to democracy was the most challenging (Linz and Stepan, 1996, p 166). Its democratization (1974-89) followed a cyclical pattern which alternated back and forth between quasi-democratic and authoritarian systems (Huntington, 1991, p 41). After a brief period of electoral democracy in the 1930s, military coups took control of the nation. The next three decades witnessed Brazil’s long authoritarian rule that was governed by a series of stable but harsh dictatorial regimes. In the 20th century, Brazil embarked on the path to electoral democracy, which was led by Vargas, the elected President. However, his rule plagued Brazil with several rebellions caused by military officers, the spread of communism across the country, and brutal tortures by governme nt agents. Thus, the short period of democracy ended and Vargas established a populist dictatorship. In 1945, military coup supported by the Brazilian oligarchy finally overthrew the ineffective and harsh leader. Brazil then plunged into a long authoritarian rule from 1964 to 1985, in which the military government held power and democratized Brazil through five major stages (Codato, 2006). It was this period of uncertainty and unrest caused by violent prolonged military dictatorship that created the climate for political compromise and democratic obligation. Causes for the breakdown of authoritarianism such as splits in the military led to the demand for re-democratization in Brazil. Democratization finally occurred in 1974 and coincided with the ‘Third Wave’ of democracy. One will be surprised and wonder how Brazil’s long period of authoritarianism under the reign of three capable leaders, Branco, Silva, and Medici’s leadership sparked a possible shift to a democracy. What factors pressured each successive military leader to concede to democratization? After a long military dictatorship, what caused the next administration, Geisel, to democratize Brazil? Finally, to what extent has democracy been consolidated? This paper will attempt to answer the above questions. I will first give a contextual knowledge about Brazil’s political transition which occurred in five stages, over the span of thirty years. Next, I will explain the reasons that caused the breakdown of authoritarianism in Brazil. Finally, I will evaluate the extent to which democracy in Brazil is consolidated based on its obstacles and threats, and suggest ways in which the democracy can be stabilized. History of Brazil’s Political Transition Establishing military dictatorship The first stage of Brazil’s political transition corresponds to the Castello Branco and Costa e Silva administrations (March, 1964 – December, 1968). The military ceased it s leadership in 1961 when vice president Joà £o Goulart resigned from presidency. He resigned with hopes of being reinstated again by popular demand, but was denied by the military’s fear of him being a communist. Following his resignation, the regime encountered difficulties in finding a new leader as no civilian politician was suitable for the existing revolutionary factions in governance. After fifteen days, Branco became the new president and managed to reform the political-economic system (Hudson, 1997). Being anti-Goulart and disapproving of his ruling methods, Branco rejected the extension of his presidency beyond Goulart’s term, or the institutionalization of the military’s power.

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