The Political Right in Postauthoritarian Brazil

Elites, Institutions, and Democratization

By (author) Timothy J. Power

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 August 2000

Length of book:

304 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271020105

Brazil was an early case of a “conservative transition” from authoritarian rule, wherein civilian elites associated with the outgoing military regime assumed a commanding role in the early years of democracy. When this phenomenon was first theorized in the mid-1980s, there were few other comparable cases, with Turkey and South Korea perhaps the best known. In the past decade the proliferation of new democracies in Eastern Europe has drawn attention to the impressive survival skills of ex-authoritarian elites.

In this book Power examines this cohort of civilian politicians, showing how they adapted to competitive politics after the 1985 regime transition and how their socialization to politics in the 1960s and 1970s shaped their initially negative attitudes toward institution building in the 1980s and 1990s—with deleterious consequences for Brazil’s fledgling democracy. Power’s study sheds new light on the paradoxes, tradeoffs, and drawbacks of conservative transitions to democracy.

“This book makes a significant, original contribution to Brazilian political studies in the post-authoritarian period as well as to the extensive case-study and comparative literature on democratic transitions and consolidations. It weaves together in sophisticated, carefully nuanced, and persuasive fashion a large body of literature in English and Portuguese bearing on elites, parties, electoral systems, and representative institutions. Power succeeds in shedding new light on the behavior of professional politicians affiliated with pro-authoritarian parties as they adapt to the more open and competitive political environment. I expect Power’s book will become an obligatory reference for future work in Brazil and elsewhere on political elites and representative institutions. It should rapidly become a standard item on the bookshelf of all Brazilianists who study contemporary Brazilian politics and history.”

—William Smith, University of Miami