This article is part of Brazil Talk’s 2018 Elections Series and is intended to give our readers a deeper understanding of the Brazilian political system, its complex electoral process and gather diverse perspectives and opinions on what the world should expect from Brazil in the upcoming months and the future of the country at the beginning of 2019.
By Rodrigo R. Soares
[5 min read]
A lot has been said about the political fragmentation in the current pre-electoral scenario in Brazil. This fragmentation has been mostly interpreted as reflecting increased radicalization, and seen as a manifestation of the underlying political preferences of a significant fraction of society. It is undeniable that there has been an increased degree of political radicalization in Brazilian society and that this radicalization also manifests itself in the pre-electoral scenario. However, I believe most of this fragmentation comes from the increasing lack of representativeness of the political system and its detachment from the demands and preferences of a major part of the Brazilian population.
The current fragmentation can find its closest historical precedent in the first direct presidential elections, in 1989, after the end of the military dictatorship, when over 20 candidates were registered in the first round – 5 of which got more than 8% of the votes, and, 7 got close to 5% or more. The worrisome difference with this precedent is that, then, despite the disappointing outcome of the election and the ensuing impeachment process, the country was coming out of a military dictatorship and there was a lot of faith in the democratic institutions and the recently born political system. In addition, an extensive and diversified gallery of leading figures in the fight against dictatorship offered political alternatives that seemed electorally feasible and morally legitimate. We no longer have the luxury of relying on figures anointed by history to exercise political leadership. This generation has passed, and the country must move on, willingly or not.