30 Years of Re-Democratization in Brazil

March 31, 2016 - 9:00 am

PANEL ONE – “30 Years of Re-Democratization in Brazil (1985-2015) – Institutions”

Chair/Organizer: Mauricio Font, Bildner Center, CUNY

1. “Attempts at Political Reform (1985-2015)”
David Fleisher, University of Brasília
Reviews attempts of a political reform (changes in election and political party legislation, including the National Constitutional Assembly (ANC) as well as the “judicialization of politics” (imposition of reforms by the TSE/STF).

2. “Opening the Black Box: Three Decades of Reforms to Brazil’s Judicial System”
Luciano de la Ros, UFRGS, and Matthew Taylor, American University
Over the past thirty years, the Brazilian judiciary has been remade. The courts have been transformed by a new corps of senior judges and a new constitution. Greater independence, increased legitimacy, and the democratic promise of equality before the law have all contributed to ballooning public demand. Reform has also significantly altered the courts. This paper evaluates continuity and change in the Brazilian courts, and assesses this “new” Judiciary.

3. “The Legislative Branch – Changes in the Role of Congress and Executive-Legislative Relations since 1985”
Murillo de Aragáo, ARKO Advice
Examines the role of Congress after the Military Regime, including the National Constitutional Assembly (1987-1988), the impeachment of President Fernando Collor in 1992, the evolution of “legislative liaison” activities, and changes in Executive-Legislative relations.

4. “The Military’s Reshaping to Fit into a Democratic Brazil, Post 1985”
Frank McCann, University of New Hampshire
Paper treats the military’s efforts to shed the legacy of the 1964-1985 intervention. It tracks some changes in official commemorations, structural changes in the three services and the reformulation of their missions. This paper explains changes in officer training and notes some troubling continuities. The expansion of Navy’s missions in South Atlantic and geopolitical thinking regarding Africa is analyzed as well as the Army’s shift from a southern to a northern defense posture and how that required political support. While keeping traditional recruitment patterns, the Army is attempting a broader set of international peacekeeping missions.

PANEL TWO – “30 Years of Re-Democratization in Brazil (1985-2015) – Political Process”

Chair/Organizer: David Fleischer, University of Brasília

1. “Democracy and Infrastructure: Public-Private Collaboration”
Mauricio Font, Bildner Center, CUNY
This paper analyzes the development and implementation of infrastructure projects since 1985 – including privatizations via concessions, PPPs (public-private partnerships), the appropriations process, and mechanisms of corruption/bribery on large construction projects.

2. “Politicians Matter: Impact of Legislature Size on Welfare with Evidence from Brazilian Municipalities”
Umberto Guarnier Mignozzetti, New York University, and Gabriel Cepaluni, UNESP-Franca
This paper investigates the impact of legislature size on voters’ welfare. Using evidence from Brazilian population thresholds in city council size, we show that additional legislators improve significantly the education and health care outcomes in the municipal level. We show that proportion of politicians in the opposition parties is the key mechanism behind the results. We also show that our results are robust to variations in the estimation technique, and that the effect is mostly homogeneous around the population thresholds. This paper has implications for the design of legislative institutions.

3. “The Foreign Policy Doctrine of Re-Democratization: Brazil and the International Order”
Hussein Kalout, Harvard University
Brazil’s foreign policy doctrine during the Re-Democratization was passed on a macro-conceptual vision of a greater role in the global order. This strategy was anchored in measures related to the presentation of regional security; the development of a trade exchange and the creation of a free trade area in South America; the strengthening of democracy; and playing a solid role on the multilateral front. The results of these matrixes of ideas based in a wider diplomatic engagement across the world enhanced Brazil’s global stature three decades later. Brazil emerged from the peripheral core of the international order to the important circle of the nations that have a larger degree of influence on the global system.

4. “Amnesty Commissions, 1979-2015”
Ann Schneider, 2016 Fulbright Scholar
The 1979 amnesty provided a mechanism through which former civil servants and military personnel punished under repressive acts of the regime could petition to return to their posts. Ad Hoc commissions in various governmental agencies then reviewed the petitions and made determinations. Few were granted reintegration as requested. Many were placed instead in retirement status while others were denied on technicalities. This paper analyzes the petitions and findings of the commissions. It also traces select case studies (including of a group of former petroleiros from the REDUC plant outside of Rio de Janeiro and another group of former state agents and attorneys in Sao Paulo) whose claims have been heard by the recent and on-going Amnesty Commission granting reparations to victims of state repression. This paper, therefore, analyzes the “Thirty Years of Redemocratization” via the lens of individual efforts for forms of restitution.