Civil Society in Brazil’s Recent Democracy

April 1, 2019 Weekly Graphs

Military groups launched a coup d’état in Brazil on 1st April 1964 which lasted 21 years. During this period, Brazilians were forced to live under censorship, repression, and political persecution. In response to military rule “Diretas Já”, a protest movement, arose and took to the streets in 1983 and 1984 demanding the return of elections. 

Military rule came to an end in 1985 and a new Constitution was introduced in 1988, which focused on reestablishing social, civil and political rights in Brazil. This led to a gradual improvement in the country’s level of democracy. However, in recent years Brazil has become embroiled in political turmoil, cumulating in the election of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who assumed office in January 2019. 

By using V-Dem’s new Graphing Tool, the Thematic Comparison graph illustrates the state of civil society in Brazil in 1988 and 2017. Indicators on or very close to the line remain at the same levels between the two selected years. Indicators above the line have experienced positive changes, while indicators below the line have declined. The colored dots indicate changes that are significantly different from zero with green signifying an improvement and red, a decline. From the graph, we see the only improvement has been the reduction in the prevalence of anti-system movements. Declines are observed in the consultation of religious organizations and civil society organizations (CSOs) by policymakers. Both represent a high level of insulation of the government from the inputs of those groups. There has been no significant change on the robustness of civil society, the involvement of people in CSOs, government control of CSOs entry and exit, the repression of CSOs and religious organizations, and the participation of women in CSOs. 

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