UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


1985-20xx - Democracy Restored

Tancredo Neves19851985
Jose Sarney19851990
Fernando Collor de Mello19901992
Itamar Franco19921994
Fernando Henrique Cardoso19952002
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva20022010
Dilma Vana Rousseff20102014+
From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional republic, with the presidency alternating between the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. This period ended with a military coup that placed Getulio Vargas, a civilian, in the presidency; Vargas remained as dictator until 1945. Between 1945 and 1961, Brazil had six presidents: Jose Linhares, Gaspar Dutra, Vargas himself, Cafe Filho, Carlos Luz, Nereu Ramos, Juscelino Kubitschek, and Janio Quadros. When Quadros resigned in 1961, Vice President Joao Goulart succeeded him.

Goulart's years in office were marked by high inflation, economic stagnation, and the increasing influence of radical political elements. The armed forces, alarmed by these developments, staged a coup on March 31, 1964. The coup leaders chose Humberto Castello Branco as president, followed by Arthur da Costa e Silva (1967-69), Emilio Garrastazu Medici (1969-74), and Ernesto Geisel (1974-79), all of whom were senior army officers. Geisel began a democratic opening that was continued by his successor, Gen. Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (1979-85). Figueiredo permitted the return of politicians exiled or banned from political activity during the 1960s and 1970s and allowed them to run for state and federal offices in 1982.

Concurrently, an electoral college consisting of all members of Congress and six delegates chosen from each state continued to choose the president. In January 1985, the electoral college voted Tancredo Neves from the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) into office as President. Neves died 39 days later, before his presidential inauguration, from abdominal complications. Vice President Jose Sarney became President upon Neves' death.

Brazilian politics since the end of the military regime in 1985 have been characterised by a multiplicity of political parties. Many do not have a strong ideological foundation or detailed policy platforms, and are built around shifting small groups of high-profile politicians. In recent years, 4 main parties have come to dominate the political landscape: the PSDB (Brazilian Social –Democratic Party); the PT (Worker’s Party); the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party); and the DEM (Democrats).

Brazil completed its transition to a popularly elected government in 1989, when Fernando Collor de Mello won 53% of the vote in the first direct presidential election in 29 years. In 1992, a major corruption scandal led to his impeachment and, ultimately, resignation. Vice President Itamar Franco took his place and governed for the remainder of Collor's term. To date, all democratically elected presidents that followed Itamar Franco started and finished their mandate with no interruptions in the constitutional order. The center-left PSDB (Brazilian Social-Democratic Party) remains important across the country and governs both the state and city of Sao Paulo – the most populous and wealthy state and city in the country. The PSDB's candidate, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, won the presidential elections on October 3, 1994 with 54% of the vote. Cardoso took office January 1, 1995, and pursued a program of ambitious economic reform. He was re-elected in 1998 for a second 4-year term.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, was elected president in 2002, after his fourth campaign for the office. President Lula, one of the founders and the most charismatic leader of the PT, won the 2002 Presidential elections convincingly with 61% of the vote. This was Lula's fourth attempt at the Presidency. His election represented a vote for change – particularly in taking forward Brazil’s social agenda. Lula put pro-poor policies at the top of his agenda, whist also continuing his predecessor’s commitment to IMF targets and fiscal discipline.

Serious corruption accusations involving Lula’s closest associates and allies began to emerge in 2005, leading to a series of Congressional investigations. Despite attempts to minimise and contain the crisis, the scandal saw the resignation of several leading figures in the PT, and investigation continues in Congress. It dominated press coverage in the build up to October 2006’s Presidential, Congressional and State Governor elections. The most visible consequence of this was the fact that the Presidential elections were taken to a second round.

The 2006 Presidential elections were taken to a second round. However, Lula beat center-left PSDB Presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin (a former Governor of Sao Paulo) convincingly with over 60% of the vote. The 'Zero Hunger' campaign (with the aim of providing basic food supplies to millions of families) was Lula's flagship social policy at the start of his first term in office. Later, Lula decided to unify all major social programmes under one flag –Bolsa Família (Family Grant) – with the objective of reaching a wider population and avoiding waste of resources in this area. After his first ministerial reshuffle in early 2003, the new Ministry for Social Development was created to oversee all social programs.

Dilma Vana Rousseff, the Workers' Party (PT) candidate, won a runoff election inn 2010 against the Brazilian Social Democratic Party candidate, becoming the first woman president of Brazil. President Rousseff had previously served as the Minister of Mines and Energy and as the Chief of Cabinet in President Lula’s administration.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 21-06-2013 14:15:49 ZULU