A brief history of Brazil’s “centrists” – and why they matter to the election

Members of Brazil's "Big Center"
Members of Brazil’s “Big Center”

Italian political scientist Giovanni Sartori once called Brazil “the most anti-partisan country of the world.” That is particularly true today, as dissatisfaction with Brazilian political parties reaches record-setting levels with the electorate blaming corrupt politicians for the recession. But this rejection hasn’t stopped presidential hopefuls from engaging in the active courtship of a group called the centrão, or the “Big Center,” even if this front of mid-sized parties represents the very concept of the establishment.

In a presidential race where candidates are bending over backward to present themselves as outsiders, why does the “Big Center” matter so much?

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