“”Whereas our old world is more than ever ruled by the insane attempt to breed people racially pure, like race-horses and dogs, the Brazilian nation for centuries has been built upon the principle of a free and unsuppressed miscegenation… It is moving to see children of all colours – chocolate, milk, and coffee – come out of their schools arm-in-arm… There is no colour-bar, no segregation, no arrogant classification… for who here would boast of absolute racial purity?
|—Stefan Zweig, Brazil: Land of the Future (1941), p. 8.|
Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil) is a unique Latin American country in that it's the only Portuguese-speaking country in the region. It has been a democracy since the end of the military dictatorship in 1985. For several decades it has been showing stable growth and a handful of progressive policies. Unfortunately, it often seems like it's two steps forward and one back with Brazil as it teeters between progressive-leftism and bigoted populism (that some might call fascism). While it boasts rich neighborhoods in world-class cities it also faces extreme rural and urban-slum poverty and the violence that comes along with it. The country has legalized gay marriage (through decree), yet there is still widespread distaste (if not outright hostility) for the LGBTQ+ community with violent attacks increasing over the years. Sexism and gender-based violence as well as systematic racism/colorism towards Brazil's large black and mixed communities are prevalent and are being addressed only in baby steps. On the other hand, Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup five times — certainly no disgrace (as conservatism has been deemed, along with slavery).
In 2010, they elected their first female president, Dilma Rousseff, who Congress suspended by dubious means. She herself had replaced a popular left-leaning leader, Lula, who was involved in corruption scandals which landed him in prison after he left office. The presiding judge (who became the Minister of Justice and Public Security in Bolsonaro's government) was considered biased by the Supreme Federal Court; however, this doesn't mean that Lula is innocent, as there will still be another trial. On January 1, 2019, the pugnacious far-right Latin-Trump candidate Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as new president and leader of the country after winning the fateful 2018 election (by a landslide). Since then he has led through a general campaign of populist rhetoric doing just about everything a bigoted neo-conservative dream politician could. He has accelerated the industrialization (read: destruction) of the rainforest, set back civil rights by decades, turned the political narrative into a toxic untruth fest and used COVID-19 denial to make Brazil one of the worst-hit areas in the world.
Brazil, along with many other countries around the world, is historically marked by political conservatism, violence against minorities, sexism and other disgraces, including dictatorships, slavery, absolute material misery for the majority of the population, elitism, political and business corruption, rape and racism (which eventually became matters of middle class “jokes” supposedly on the grounds of the right of freedom of speech) and even fascism.
Before 1500, Brazil was inhabited by a large number of different ethnic groups and comprised a gigantic linguistic and cultural diversity. A few years before the colonization, the north of Brazil was occupied by complex, densely-populated chiefdoms with increasingly centralized authorities. The indigenous people of other regions had no systematic agricultural activity and depended mainly on fishing, hunting and horticulture. Early Spanish explorers made reports of vast cities with tens or hundreds of thousands of people in the Amazon Rainforest. However, these reports were often dismissed by archaeologists and historians since there couldn't possibly be civilization in the Amazon–until we started finding the remains of these cities after massive deforestation in the 21st century (woo-hoo?).
Then, after civil war, famine and the Black Death, some Portuguese adventurers decided to expand beyond the Atlantic, eventually discovering the until-recently unknown lands of the New World, specifically Brazil – much to the bemusement of the people who lived there already. For the next 300 years, the Portuguese sought to solidify institutions such as slavery and viceroyalties in their New World colonies. They also implanted a European-style landowner's aristocracy in the country, which is usually understood as the foundation of huge social disparities which continue to this day.
During the Napoleonic wars, the king of Portugal and his family, friends and courtiers, feeling that shit was about to hit the fan in the Iberian Peninsula, decided to escape and hide in Rio de Janeiro, one of the biggest Brazilian cities of the time. This led to an odd and indeed chaotic situation where a colonized territory suddenly became the site of a European monarchy. There is an ongoing debate on whether the flight of the monarchy in 1808 led to more violence against the poor people of Brazil or if it was only a way of impoverishing all other areas of the country except for Rio (a combination of both effects is equally plausible). When the Portuguese liberal revolution of 1820 exploded, the Portuguese and Brazilians alike were summoned to a Constitutional Assembly. Apparently, Brazilians thought that their new constitution, which was very progressive and inclusive indeed (the freed slaves and Brazilians of African descent were granted many civil and political rights, while the monarchy would be subject to a parliament), was way too liberal for them. Accordingly, they declared independence in 1822 and soon adopted a constitutional absolutist monarchy under Emperor Peter I (Portuguese: Dom Pedro I), the son of the former King John VI.
The reign of ol' Pete was relatively authoritarian. He was easily defeated by the Argentinean troops in the Cisplatine War (a violent dispute for the possession of territories currently belonging to Uruguay), inherited from his father, although Argentina had little military power and was facing great domestic instability, Brazil was also not in the best state, since João left with the money that was in the Bank of Brazil. The Empire signs the peace treaty which, although they lost Cisplatine, favoured them more.
Since then, Brazilian nativists and the opposition accused Peter of being more worried about Portugal then Brazil. This happened because his daughter, Dona Maria, who was supposed to be the queen of Portugal, had her throne usurped by her absolutist uncle, Dom Miguel. With the help of the English and Portuguese liberals,the now Duke of Braganza fought and won the civil war against Miguel, leading to his status in Portugal as a great hero, and, differently from Brazil, a liberal.
Peter I abdicated the throne and left Brazil in 1831, leaving the throne to his son, Dom Pedro II, who was a child of six years old. Thereafter, the country was run by a bunch of bureaucrats and clerks serving as regents before the future emperor turned 15 (that is, until 1840). The regency, as the Brazilians themselves would call it, was a festa do caqui (literally, "persimmon party", meaning "a great mess") with civil strife, conflicting legislation and unstable cabinets. There was also some kind of dispute among liberal and conservative parties, although they had little (if any) ideological divergence beyond federalist or non-federalist purposes. In fact, they were so similar that people often said "a liberal resembles a conservative more than anything else".
After Emperor Peter II (Portuguese: Dom Pedro II) took the throne in 1840, the Empire entered an era of relative stability and prosperity, which made him a much loved leader. The period was marked, however, by many wars, both disputes with neighboring countries and internal conflicts.
Slavery, followed by coffee, was Brazil's main institution since colonial times and was hardly criticized, even after intensive British propaganda and political measures against it. The powerful agrarian elites at the time were, of course, supportive of slavery, since it was essential to the Brazilian main economic activity: the production of commodities (first sugarcane, then coffee). Peter II, on the other hand, was clearly against the institution, a diverging point from his father, who used pseudonyms to write opinion articles, against slavery and racism, at a local newspaper, had freed his own slaves when he assumed the throne and approved successive laws reducing it (until the effective abolition of slavery in 1888, one of the things leading to the fall of the Empire one year later).
Many people find it hard to believe that such a vast and potentially powerful state could have dedicated almost its entire economy to these extremely risky and dependent activities for so many years; however, after you get to know the Veja magazine or the Brazilian bourgeoisie, this is hardly incomprehensible.
During the reign of Peter II, Brazil fought a war against Paraguay, apparently due to the imperialistic projects of the sickly Paraguayan president. The war, which was a never-ending savagery, was further promoted by the United Kingdom, for obviously equally imperialistic reasons. Peter II, along with his renewed cabinet, had also progressively reformed some of the country's institutions, most notably the army, which had a great number of positivists officials. This led to a republican coup d’état in the next year, backed by the Brazilian armed forces and ex-slaves owners who wanted indemnization after they had lost their slaves, which instituted an oligarchic and conservative regime.
The Old Republic
The end of the monarchy in Brazil marked a transition from a European model to an American model. Brazil adopted a presidential system, provinces were now called states and their flag got white stars on a blue background (there was even a provisional flag modeled on the US flag). The first two presidents were from the military.
The republican government was a club: the totality of its politicians counted no more than five hundred men, out of an active (voting) citizenry of less than two percent of the total population. Once again, one wonders why it was still necessary to commit electoral fraud (a very common practice before 1946) in such a republic. During this period, a great mass of European refugees (especially from Italy, Portugal, Poland and Germany) came to Brazil. They had either been deceived by Brazilian propaganda or, more commonly, were simply desperate for something to eat. The Brazilian tidy and crude middle classes often regard these ancestors as a reason for being greatly proud, and often claim they were of noble descent or other similar stupidities, whereas in fact they were just poor people or war criminals searching for food.
The Old Republic ended in 1930, when a so-called revolution took place (the reasons for this nomenclature are still to be explained). São Paulo, a very unimportant region until the end of the 19th century, had become both an economic and political power during the republic and dominated the republican general elections along with Minas Gerais (another unit of the federation). This was surely regarded by many other units of the federation as usurpation. In addition, a group of discontented low-ranking military (the tenentes) began criticizing and even affronting the establishment, as they thought the government was corrupt and the elections were fraudulent. Getúlio Vargas (by the way, a not unknown former minister of republican governments) conducted the military campaign against the oligarchs of the republic, and founded a new regime. During 1931 and 1932 the regime had no constitution, and sought to debilitate opposition, destroying even the forces of the proud and conservative Paulistas. In 1934 president Vargas summoned a constitutional assembly; nevertheless, the new constitution seemed exaggeratedly liberal for the provisional president who never really obeyed its rules. Actually, he supported fascist groups inside Brazil (the Integralistas, also known as "green chickens") for rather a long time before his coup d’état. He created the so-called state police that used torture as a means of investigation. Vargas smashed organized opposition from the left (the National Liberation Alliance, for example, was deemed illegal less than one year after its creation), persecuted Jews, and censored the press. In 1937, claiming that "agents from Moscow" were planning a takeover, he instituted a dictatorship that lasted almost a decade.
The dictatorship was nationalist, conservative and centralist. Although Vargas himself was no fascist, he deeply admired Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. However, under North American pressure, he chose to side with the United States in World War II, and lost considerable support from crazy right-wing fascists. In the last years of his government, Vargas created three base industrial complexes and tried to guarantee minimum labor rights for the gigantic mass of excluded and exploited workers. These acts were considered almost a miracle from heaven and Vargas is admired to this day (as the humble people's father by one hand, and the rich people's mother, by the other).
The 1946 Republic
With the victory of the Soviet Union and democratic republics in World War II, the Vargas dictatorship was quickly replaced by a more democratic republic, where almost 10% of the population could vote. This was obviously a nightmare for the Brazilian oligarchs and middle classes, since a very small number of workers could therefore influence the final electoral results. This was indeed the case with the election of Eurico Gaspar Dutra in 1946. In 1950, Getúlio Vargas was directly elected president, as a large part of the Brazilian workers recognized him as their benefactor. Vargas’ nationalist economic policies (which were by no means revolutionary) faced intense opposition from Brazilian conservatives. Vargas was particularly disliked by an abhorrent figure of Brazilian history, a journalist named Carlos Lacerda, whose writings must be read to be believed (it would not be an exaggeration to say that he has some successors in contemporary Brazil). Deeply depressed by the course of events, Vargas took his own life in 1954, causing some national commotion (some say that the high esteem with which Vargas is held by Brazilians to this day is more difficult to comprehend than the Trinity). Actually, Vargas had faced an ever-increasing interventionist ideology sustained by some branches of the armed forces and the Brazilian bourgeoisie, since these groups could not tolerate any political shift towards progressive economic or social policies. Conspiracies were loosely organized but were getting stronger, and there was an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the elected president Juscelino Kubitschek (a.k.a. JK) from taking power in 1955.
Juscelino's government was progressive to a certain extent and is remembered as the Brazilian Golden Age, although Brazilian debts increased radically during these years, since the current Brazilian capital, Brasília, was built during his term. Legend says that he got the idea during a press conference where someone asked him if he was willing to obey the constitution, specifically the part where it said that the capital should be moved towards the center of the country. His catchphrase was "50 years in 5!", suggesting that Brazil would progress 50 years in 5. The national debt did, at least.
He was replaced by a psychotic professor named Jânio Quadros. Jânio remained in power briefly but soon resigned, apparently because he was not only a freak and a moralist, but was also incredibly arrogant to think that the Congress would beg for his permanence. His successor, João Goulart (a.k.a. Jango, the vice president) took office in 1961, soon after which the conservatives accused him of communism and forced him to accept a parliamentary government, where he would have no great power. The Congress supported this coup, but Jango prepared a referendum for 1963, when the citizens declared themselves in favor of a presidential system. Jango defended wide "base reforms" in Brazil, which had already been done in developed countries such as Japan, the United States and so on. For the first time ever in the history of Brazil, a president was proposing genuine land reform, universal suffrage, fiscal reform and many other basic democratic ideas. Nonetheless, it was almost impossible to demonstrate to the Brazilian elite that land and fiscal reforms were not communism, since they live in an alternative reality.
Jango was repeatedly accused of being against the Christian faith, and the Catholic Church was overtly against his government. Businessmen, the middle class and the Brazilian press (concentrated in the hands of four to ten families, whose paranoid publications usually make you believe they were/are trapped in Sauron’s Mordor) united against what they called "the communist threat". In fact, the conservative middle classes organized an amazingly sick demonstration against Goulart called "the march of the family on behalf of god and the fatherland".
Brazilian military dictatorship
The dictatorship imposed by the armed forces was bloodthirsty, repressive, and moralist. Although censorship had already been instituted in the 1946 Republic, its scope became wider and dumber (believe it or not) after the coup. Torture was institutionalized immediately after the seizure of power. The dictator Castelo Branco, often referred to only as "president" by the Brazilians themselves, tried to create a moderate center-right self identity (so that he could be immortalized as an odonym); this was no hard task, for in addition to few Brazilians knowing what an odonym is, the ignoble and sordid (if not noble and odonymistic) far right was really worse, as they defended eugenics, genocide and the implosion of minorities along with any possible opposition group (in effect, for the Brazilian right-wing psychotic "citizens" as a whole, any sort of opposition are commies).
After Castelo Branco's administration, the Brazilian dictatorship quickly degenerated into a more evil aberration. The Institutional Act number five, for example, issued by president Artur da Costa e Silva, suspended habeas corpus and judicial review, alongside the virtual suppression of Congress's deliberative power. Monstrous activities followed, such as the persecution and eventual "suicide" (i.e. assassination) of congressmen, journalists and other civilians opposed (or not) to the government. Furthermore a bizarre “group” inside the armed forces called linha dura ("hardliners") promoted terrorist attacks against civilians during these years, as they thought this would fortify the dictatorship's position. These practices consisted, for example, of exploding the site of the OAB (The Order of Attorneys of Brazil) and claiming it was a communist attack. In a parallel universe this would have worked.
Things became harder to sustain after dictator Geisel implemented a series of statist economic policies, which Brazilian and foreign businessmen considered equivalent to a communist revolution. In fact, as Geisel himself reported, the Brazilian elite had never formally requested the end of torture and similar atrocities, but they were concerned with the impact of economic policies on their profits. The same holds true for the Brazilian press, which never condemned summary killing and torture in general, and which has even provided assistance to the torturers and political police. Golbery de Couto e Silva, for example, an éminence grise of the regime, said once that the newspaper Estado de São Paulo needed no censorship, as the Mesquita family who owned the newspaper was even more conservative than him.
The New Republic
The return to democracy was a gradual and controlled process. Civil society was tired of the dictatorship's violence, economic growth had ended, inflation was rising, and even the middle classes were no longer happy with the regime they helped to establish. Starting in 1983, a popular movement called "Diretas Já" emerged, calling for the approval of an amendment to the 1967 Constitution (enacted by the Military Dictatorship) that would allow direct elections for president. However, in 1984, the amendment was not approved by the Chamber of Deputies, as it failed to reach the two-thirds required to pass. As a result, the first elections with civilian candidates were held indirectly by an electoral college composed of deputies and senators in 1985, in which Tancredo Neves was elected. Neves had been prime minister during the short period of parliamentary government in 1961 and was a member of the opposition to the military regime. However, Tancredo Neves died before taking office, a victim of diverticulitis. To this day, the death of Tancredo Neves is the subject of conspiracy theories.
With the death of Tancredo Neves, vice president José Sarney, a supporter of the military rule who was a senator and governor of Maranhão, assumed the presidency. His administration was very unpopular and faced many problems such as foreign debt and hyperinflation. In 1985, the government launched the Cruzado Plan, a package of economic measures that tried to end hyperinflation by freezing prices and readjusting wages. Sarney appealed to the population, who supported his measures, including some people declaring themselves to be "Sarney's inspectors" and denouncing places that were charging prices above those set by the government, which were closed. At first he got it right. Inflation has fallen and people's purchasing power has increased. But it didn't last long. Soon, inflation rose again and products began to disappear from supermarket shelves. In 1987, Brazil announced a moratorium on its external debt.
In 1988, Brazil promulgated a new particularly democratic constitution, assuring universal suffrage and direct elections in two rounds for the first time. In the presidential campaign that followed, however, the Globo television station (formerly allied with the dictatorship) and the oligarchic press massively supported the obscure candidate Fernando Collor de Mello for the presidency (much to the pleasure of the middle classes, for he was rich, conservative and handsome). However, the Collor administration tried to control inflation with radical measures that caused panic in the middle class, such as confiscating all savings accounts above 50,000 cruzados novos (in 2022, this is the equivalent of just over R$8,000 or US$1600). His plan to control hyperinflation also included actions such as freezing prices (again), privatizing state-owned companies and laying off civil servants. At first, the plan was even successful in fighting inflation, as it directly affected consumption, but it didn't work out. The relationship between the president and congressmen began to strain. From the moment accusations of corruption emerged against him, denounced by his own brother, Pedro Collor, Fernando Collor was soon impeached by the same political forces that had him elected. This utterly demonstrates that the Brazilian elites are deeply incompetent.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, considered by the intelligence (?) service of the dictatorship to be a commie (although his party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, is liberal in economic policies), was elected president in 1995. He was Minister of Finance between 1993 and 1994, during a high inflationary crisis, and he succeeded in combating it, having being elected to a second term in 1998, although involved in a vote-buying scandal to legalize reelection, which wasn't permitted by law until then. In the next presidential elections, the Brazilians elected Lula (full name: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from the Workers' Party), who had been an important leader of syndicalism and an opposition figure during the dictatorship. For the Brazilian press, his election was considered a catastrophe similar to, if not worse than, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown in Ukraine or World War II. Repeatedly, Lula was represented by the media as a new version of Stalin or Fidel Castro, or simply as an "illiterate dumbo" (classism? prejudice? Nah! You are just being too politically correct about it, they would say). In reality, Lula did not make any attempt to systematically reform social conditions in the country, and he just instituted state-financed assistance to prevent people from starving to death (Brazil being Brazil, there is a considerable number of politicians and their relatives and friends who also receive it). He has not even promoted big changes in civil rights, although his economic policies were kind of progressive. In fact, Lula's government was not social-democratic in any sense, and the sole change was a more nationalist approach to economic policies. The same holds true for his successor, Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla member from the Workers' Party, who has spread terror amongst the middle classes as never before during the 2010 presidential elections. She was re-elected by a narrow margin in the second round of presidential elections of 2014 against Aécio Neves, from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. In 2015, her approval rating dropped to 9% after corruption scandals in Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned oil company, were revealed by the Federal Police of Brazil and economic activity started to melt due to misguided economic policy. The country is in a serious political and economic crisis, where President Rousseff's government has been abandoned by almost everybody despite her party saying everything is just fine and criticizing the opposition, calling them "bad losers" and "lackeys of neoliberalism" (the latter being common in Internet discussions).
An impeachment process against Ms. Rousseff was accepted by Congress in late 2015. Contrary to what people may think, she is accused of borrowing money from banks the Federal Government controls, which is forbidden by the Fiscal Responsibility law, as opposed to involvement in graft. Her administration failed to block the motion and, as a result, she was suspended in May 2016 as the Senate finally decided to judge the merits of the case and whether or not to impeach her for good. The final vote is expected to be held in August. Michel Temer, the Vice President, became Acting President, and immediately announced a series of austerity measures and appointments for Goldman Sachs associates and executives. For once, austerity might be justified, given that public debt/GDP ratio is climbing quickly and might reach an untenable level otherwise. For instance, in May 2014, gross public debt was 52.6% of GDP. By May 2015, it reached 61.2%. In May 2016, the latest figure as of this writing, gross public debt attained 68.6% of GDP. At the same time, her government was extremely lax with tax breaks and existing debt, foregoing hundreds of billions in revenue, in a failed effort to entice the market to invest in the real economy, instead mostly rerouting this into the financial market. All told, it will take a lot of time and effort to revert this escalation. President Rousseff did a great disservice to her country.
Temer's administration paradoxically expanded the public payroll, boosted public servants' wages, frozen states' debt payments to the federal government and given some emergency cash to Rio de Janeiro state, while also brutally reducing public spending on everything else. The Brazilian economy, frozen by high unemployment and private debt, did not create enough demand and presented less than mediocre growth. This was reflected in mid-2018 when a nationwide strike by truckers brought the economy to its knees again.
After a hectic and tremendously polarized campaign, Jair Bolsonaro was elected by a significant margin. He is leading a government self-admittedly inspired by Donald Trump's, with a heavily conservative social agenda, mixed with ultraliberal economics, focusing on privatization, deregulation and liberalization. However, Bolsonaro's government is being thoroughly incompetent in getting anything done that needs anything more than direct presidential decrees, and is largely focused on conservative talking points (such as the destruction of the "traffic fine industry") and his popularity is falling faster than any other Brazilian president in history. Bolsonaro's deliberate destruction of any environmental regulation and oversight in favor of landowners wanting to create as much arable land as possible (while unaware of the environmental standards their international buyers have) has gathered significant international pressure, exchanging insults with France's president Emmanuel Macron.
The "Car Wash Scandal" (Operação Lava Jato, in strict terms), which started in 2014 as an investigation of a supposed money-laundering scheme that used gas stations and car washes (duh) to launder money from political bribery, quickly escalated into a complex police operation, involving politicians, lobbyists, ministries, syndicalists and even billionaires (like Marcelo Odebrecht and Léo Pinheiro), led from Curitiba, in South Brazil, by Judge Sérgio Moro. Among the politicians implicated are Dilma Rousseff, Lula (referred to as the head of the scheme,) Eduardo Cunha (former President of Brazil's Lower House), Michel Temer, Renan Calheiros (President of Brazil's Upper House), Fernando Collor, Aécio Neves and lots of irrelevant deputies that you probably never heard of, even if you lived in Brazil. Basically, the Car Wash Scandal exposed the rotten root of Brazil's politics and corporations — and it was worse than expected. Seriously, take a look at this partial list of involved people (there are at least 200 politicians cited, including the ruling president and the former one. Lula was jailed in April 2018. For these reasons, the scandal is profoundly shaping Brazil's economy, politics and culture, in a way that is still hard to describe.
In mid-2019, however, Lava Jato's public support started to decline as leaked conversations from members of the task force made it clear they weren't exactly following the law, going so far as to blackmail and pressure witness, and liberally accepting plea bargains with no additional evidence as long as it suited them, selectively prosecuting those who they saw as more or less dangerous. Moro told the task force *not* to investigate ex-President Cardoso because he considered that it could "undermine someone whose support is important", attempting to control billions in Petrobrás money (re-routed through the US Department of Justice to create their own pseudo-party), directing the media to make things as spectacular as possible with their own political ambitions, blackmailing and conducting character assassination of journalists, the Attorney General and Supreme Court members, and more. Even Moro himself had been specifically promised his current job as Justice Minister after sentencing Lula, Bolsonaro's biggest opponent. In a few-months, many of Lava Jato's means and decisions had their *extreme* legal questionableness no longer ignored, with a growing number of them invalidated and reverted.
Currently, Bolsonaro's government is focused not on recovering the Brazilian economy which is likely to re-enter recession, but instead of appealing to his base of hard-core supporters with increasingly inane policies and destroying any possible opponents on the right, expecting the left to be dominated by the PT party, providing them with an easy scapegoat to blame everything on and eventually defeat again. He is also focused on destroying any potential competitors on the right, hoping to be the only option left besides PT.
US-style evangelicalism has fueled homophobia in Brazil in recent years, where gay and transgender people have been tortured and murdered in ways equal to or worse than what Matthew Shepard suffered.
Brazilian politics can be quite difficult to follow. As a presidentialist regime with a fragmented Congress (the lower house of Congress boasts twenty-five parties, the biggest of which currently holds only 13% of the seats), the federal government is forced to establish coalitions by offering key posts in the administration and other benefits, legal and otherwise, to junior partners. This arrangement is called "Coalition Presidentialism" and results in successive governments leading supermajority (higher than two thirds) alliances in congress to ensure constitutional amendments. Indeed, some say this is a reason why corruption is rampant in politics.
Here are the main parties of Brazil:
- The Workers' Party (PT) — The most influential party, which governed the country from 2003 until Dilma's impeachment in 2016. Originally left-wing, now they are seen as center-left. Known for: a) saying that opponents are white elitists who hate poor people; b) calling opponents fascists regardless of political beliefs, and c) claiming that any center or right-wing party will end welfare programs because of a). Their leader is Lula, who poses as the "paladin of social justice", yet became as corrupt as his predecessors. After Bolsonaro's victory, PT has adopted an isolationist and obstructionist stance, and their biggest worry as of yet is to keep hegemony over the Brazilian left, even though anti-PT sentiment is so strong that keeping this hegemony would guarantee future defeats.
- The Democratic Movement Party (MDB) - Until 2018 the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). The biggest of them all, and at the same time the least coordinated being a loose confederation of regional parties with no particular political orientation. It has no actual propositional agenda and is dominated by local chiefs and local dealings. It is actually the continuation of the consented opposition party during the dictatorship, minus all the ideologically minded democrats who fought the dictatorship and died off or departed to form other parties. Since redemocratization, its main role has been to guarantee support to the government in exchange executive nominations, and also the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in 2016. It is a centrist party, but its main agenda is to be a coalition partner to whatever government is in charge and reap any benefits this affords them, and thus leans left or right depending on which way the wind blows. It used to be the main ally of the PT. Nowadays, not so much. It is currently the party with most elected members of Congress in both houses. It is also the party of Michel Temer, Dilma Rousseff's Vice President and from 2016-2018 the interim President of Brazil. As mentioned above, it is currently tending to the right and pursuing austerity, although halfheartedly at best.
- The Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) — despite the name, they were closer to neoliberalism than to social democracy. The guys who lost the last four presidential elections due to incompetence were from the PSDB. Known for being the generic "opposition party" despite never being a true opposition at all — in fact, no one trusts them, not even the "elites".
- The Social Liberal Party (PSL) — Much like PSDB name, they are definitely NOT a social liberal party, nor do they follow the principles of social liberalism. Originally a very small and irrelevant party which advocated for, guess what, social and economic liberalism, it even had began to develop some left-libertarian wings before it was taken over by Jair Bolsonaro, which was desperately looking for a party shameless enough to back his bid in the 2018 election. Despite pre-election optimism by some sensible people, he managed to pose as an anti-corruption paladin and exploited controversy in media and internet to expose his image, much like Donald Trump, and got elected. A very right-wing party, it claims to defend "family-values", free-market policies, in a manner not too different from the infamous trickle-down economics (though some could argue that Bolsonaro, like a 5th-grader, only support those to piss off the left, since he held some nationalistic views in the past, much in line with the military-dictatorship period ideology, and let's not even get started on NIOBIUM) and any hot-button issue conservatives can bring into the discourse (Gun rights, law and order, human rights, immigration, you name it, the problems discussed aren't that much different from the USA, really, it only gets more similar with time). It now has the second largest number of deputies in the lower house of congress, and has as elected members persons like his three sons (talk about a political family!), some detestable guys like Alexandre Frota, a former gay porn actor (i'm not even joking) who took a conservative turn some years ago and now spends most of his time attacking the left and bashing LGBT people, and even a prince, Luiz Philippe de Orléans e Bragança, from the house of Orléans-Braganza (which still claims the brazilian throne, the one that was couped and abolished in 1889), for those who think that brazil going back to 1964 isn't far enough into the past. Seriously, Brazil isn't for the weak!
- The Democratic Labour Party (PDT) claims heritage to the moderate left wing from the 1945-1964 republic and Getúlio Vargas' populist government of 1930-1945, but has lost protagonism with PT's rise to power. They were historical allies with PT but as of recent years became strong critics of their government. In 2018, their candidate Ciro Gomes, a former ally and minister of Lula's, made it to the third place with a significant amount of votes despite having a comparatively much smaller party and coalition, and multiple shady deals by PT, including sacrificing their own candidates, not in order to guarantee PT or other left-wing candidates could win, but to guarantee PDT's candidates would lose. Understandably, PDT feels betrayed by PT, and is now the base of anti-PT sentiment on the left. They are seeking to replace PT as the "leaders" of the Brazilian left thanks to Ciro's growing popularity and dissatisfaction from smaller left-wing parties like PSB and PCdoB, and PT's utter internal chaos and refusal to talk to anyone, on the center, right or left, has been making it surprisingly easy. Unlike PT's more New Left program, PDT runs on a platform of economic nationalism, protectionism and democratic socialism closer to the Old Left, and points to PT as having conducted a center-right government with moderate welfare programs serving as compensation while Brazilian banks were making record-breaking profits and the economy was progressively de-industrialized and social services like healthcare and education were neglected. In response, PT has called them fascists for daring to question their God-given dominance of the entire progressive spectrum.
- The other 28 parties are mostly unimportant by themselves, but together they occupy most of Congress (more than half the seats in the Senate and nearly two-thirds in the lower house) and should not, therefore, be ignored. The sole purpose for most of them (the so called "Centrão" or "Big Center" of conservative parties) is to support the government in exchange for favors — legal or otherwise. A few noteworthy exceptions are PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party, which is the main proponent of identitarian causes, multiculturalism, LGBT rights and other contemporaneous, "new left" agenda elements), PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) and PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil), all of them left wing, but not truly united in any way. Another exception is the PSC (Social Christian Party), a religious and conservative party, with everything it entails, and infamous for electing some truly distasteful politicians (as well as possibly some genuinely tasteful, depending upon whose taste buds are consulted). Brazil has also recently got some election threshold laws in effect, and the smaller parties are already fusing with each other or larger ones. It is expected that Brazil will have around 10 to 15 parties by 2030.
- Brazil. Wikiquote.
- Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works, using Bolsonaro as example of fascism thought out the lesson
- Profile of notification of violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexual people recorded in the National Information System on Notifiable Diseases, Brazil, 2015-2017. Various authors.
- Article: Homicide of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Travestis, Transexuals, and Transgender people (LGBT) in Brazil: a Spatial Analysis by Wallace Góes Mendes and Cosme Marcelo Furtado Passos da Silva.
- Fifa World Cup Official Website
- The Guardian: Dilma Rousseff impeachment: what you need to know
- The Intercept: IN SHARP REBUKE, BRAZIL SUPREME COURT RULES JUDGE WHO LOCKED UP LULA WAS BIASED
- Londoño, Ernesto. Jair Bolsonaro Sworn In as Brazil’s President, Cementing Rightward Shift January 1, 2019. The New York Times.
- Far-right Bolsonaro rides anti-corruption rage to Brazil presidency. Reuters. 28 October 2018.
- See the Wikipedia article on 2018 Brazilian general election.
- Extrema Pobreza no Brasil, Jayme Benvenuto Lima Junior,Lena Zetterström,Flávio Luiz Schieck Valente
- Brazil: Jokes about rape and the limit of humour
-  Integralism: Brazilian Fascism in the 30’s, Hélgio Trindade.
- Satellite Images Aided the Discovery of an Ancient Civilization Buried in the Amazon], Time. March 28, 2018.
- "Brazil's Chief Wins Vote Despite Scandal". May 22, 1997. NY Times.
- Brazilian Central Bank public debt data compilation, 2008 methodology
- Dilma deu R$ 458 bilhões em desonerações
- "Reajuste do servidor e 14.000 novos cargos: austeridade de Temer em xeque". June 3, 2016. El País.
- "Governo suspende dívidas dos estados até fim do ano". June 21, 2016. G1.
- "Governo federal socorre Rio para garantir segurança na Olimpíada". June 22, 2016. El País.
- PEC 241 (teto de gastos): Quais os reais efeitos?
- O que é o teto de gastos, como é definido e por que causa tanta polêmica?
- PIB do Brasil: histórico e evolução em gráficos.
- Paulo Guedes promete avançar com grandes privatizações em 2020
- Novo Ibope mostra popularidade, aprovação e confiança em Bolsonaro em queda
- The Amazon in Brazil is on fire - how bad is it?
- Brazil’s Top Prosecutors Who Indicted Lula Schemed in Secret Messages to Prevent His Party From Winning 2018 Election.
- Influence of U.S. Evangelicals Is Seen In Epidemic of LGBT Murders In Brazil
- ABRANCHES. Sérgio Buarque Hudson de. "Presidencialismo de Coalizão: o dilema institucional brasileiro". In: Dados - revista de ciências sociais. Rio de Janeiro. vol. 31, n. 1, 1988. pp. 5 to 34.
- AVRITZER, Leonardo. "Impasses da democracia no Brasil". Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2016.
- O acordo impublicável entre PT e PSB
- Chomsky: Centralidade do PT deixa oposição “apática” e Ciro pode liderar forças contra Bolsonaro - Noam Chomsky in a PDT-led event pointing out how PT has created the conditions for Bolsonaro's victory