Although Brazil’s turn to democracy began in 1946, populism was the political order. In the years to follow, Brazil experienced a rise of Bureaucratic Authoritarianism and state-led economic development, both of which stimulated the country’s economy. In Lula da Silva’s term of office, he expanded public expenditures on infrastructures and industry as part of his plan for the Acceleration of Growth; and improved growth, higher median incomes and decreased inequality (KKJ 366-367). In 2010, Lula handpicked his successor, Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil’s economy has seen tremendous growth and success after the introduction of its own currency, the real, in 1987. In the decades to follow, we can see that there has been an improvement in income inequality and after the trauma of hyperinflation, Brazil has made a growing commitment to building a greater welfare state. The country has been a member of the world’s top emerging markets, known as the BRICS, but has unfortunately become overly dependent on their commodity products, making them a high-cost, commodity-dependent economy. In “Bearish on Brazil”, Sharma Ruchir discusses how the country has placed itself into a situation of stunted growth because of its inability to take more risks and open up the economy. Ruchir suggests that Brazil should spend less on its welfare state, simplify the tax code, broaden the tax base and modernize its inefficient pension and social security systems.
Michael Taylor in “Brazil’s Ebbing Tide” describes the country as currently being in a ‘funk’ as of result of escalating street protests, corruption scandals, frayed policies and economic worries. Taylor believes that Brazil needs more done in areas like healthcare, education and in its institutions to improve democracy in the country.
President Dilma Rousseff, who has just been sworn into her second term of office, was quoted in a New York Times article saying, “The Brazilian people want even more transparency and more combat against all types of crimes, especially corruption…and they want the arm of justice to reach everyone equally. I’m not afraid to face these challenges” (Peres). Her reelection into office does come with wary eyes just because this could, more or less, be considered a trying time for Brazil, with “a scandal at the state-run oil company, a moribund economy and less congressional support for her governing coalition” (Peres).
I do think that economic growth has hindered the growth of a stable democracy in Brazil because the country has yet to establish for itself a stable and functioning economy. With great concern that Brazil is not making the necessary changes to its imports and exports, economic growth will be on the downturn. Democracy, as Shumpeter puts it, is the ability for a country to have free and fair elections. Brazil has yet to elect a leader that has had to go against a strong opposition. However, in the New York Times article linked below, President Rousseff is ready to “to fight graft and end impunity for the rich and powerful” (Peres). With a stimulated economy, democracy can be seen in a better light. If she can help improve and make the necessary changes needed for there to be a sustainable economy, there will be better hope for a stable democracy in Brazil.