“The Economic and Political Challenges Confronting Brazil ”
Dr. Mariano Magalhães is a professor of Political Science at Augustana College, where he teaches courses that focus primarily on the consolidation and quality of democracy in the developing world, with a special emphasis on Latin America. Dr. Magalhães was a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidade de Brasília in 2011 and currently serves as Director of the Brazil Term Study Abroad Program, Director of the Africana Studies Program, and Chair of the Division of Social Sciences at Augustana College. He has published articles on the impact of decentralization on democracy in Brazil, the role of the Brazilian armed forces in post-1985 Brazil and this past summer conducted research on the relationship between feminist civil society and the state in Brazil.
Elisa Klewinski is a junior Political Science and Environmental Studies double major at Augustana College. She recently spent five and a half weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador studying the nature of democracy and the state of economic development in Brazil.
In the span of roughly a generation Brazilian democracy has gone from being labeled as “feckless” and the economy as “drunk” in the early 1990s to being hailed for its innovative social policies, emerging economy and robust democracy in the first part of the 21st century (under the guidance primarily of former President Lula da Silva) and, in the last three years, back to economic paralysis and political crisis, amid the worst corruption scandal in the history of the country. The goal of our presentation is to show that these characterizations tend to exaggerate both the bad and the good of Brazil during these periods. Instead, by most accounts, Brazil is now an established democracy but with flaws. The most recent crisis has deeply divided the nation, leading many Brazilians to question the legitimacy of not only the current government but of the democratic project itself. The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the greed of so many politicians caught up in the Lava-Jato corruption scandal has led to high levels of popular disenchantment and dissatisfaction of the political elite. Despite this, democracy shows signs of significant growth, with the development of strong institutions of accountability, especially the judiciary and the media, a vibrant civil society and the following of democratic political rules by key actors.