How to make Brazil’s parties more ideologically defined

In 2014, researchers found that Brazil has only two 'programmatic' parties, defined by their well-structured ideological commitments. The situation may have gotten worse since and undermines Brazilian democracy

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Aécio Neves and Dilma Rousseff ahead of a presidential debate in 2014. His Brazilian Social Democracy Party and her Workers’ Party are Brazil’s only ‘programmatic’ parties. Photo: Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress

Whether it be by calling on the Armed Forces to safeguard his power, or claiming he will not accept the results of a popular vote without paper ballots, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s challenges to democracy will make for a tumultuous Brazilian election come 2022. And in this milieu of threats and counter-threats, meaningful policy debates are set to fall by the wayside in Latin America’s biggest country.

Indeed, this has been the norm for Brazil’s political system since its inception in the nineteenth century. Parties rarely make concrete policy commitments — and when they do, they have no qualms...

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