Dados vol. 25 n. 3 Rio de Janeiro 1982

Crise e Tradição: Uma Interpretação do Momento Político Nacional

Abranches, Sérgio Henrique


This paper indicates some elements of continuity and of discontinuity in the dynamics of Brazil's political regime as a means of interpreting the present national situation. It is argued that Brazil, Spain, and Poland are examples of political change without social revolution, that is: a non-revolutionary liberalization, characterized by an essentially political process of transition related to regime structure and power relations but without comparable changes in the social-economic realm, at least in the short run. Even if the transition process has different origins in each case, the basic question facing the three countries is the restitution of state power to society, a movement against the monopolization of power and in favor of a new political order. The paper describes the evolution and routinization of authoritarianism in Brazil, indicating the structural and institutional determinants of the process of "authoritarian democratization" of the regime. Such determinants are of a social, economic, and political nature, operating both from within and without the regime. It is argued that the internal power fragmentation of the regime and the associated split within society, leading important groups to withdraw from the power coalition while simultaneously creating uncompromising factions, pose a dilemma for the transition process in all three countries, namely: how to change without confrontation and repression or revolution? The successful resolution of this dilemma, avoiding a political deadlock, depends on the adoption of an efficient mechanism to guide the transition. In Brazil at least, the Congress, based on multiparty representation, seems to be the most adequate institutional mechanism to channel and to regulate the conflict, making "Viable the process of transition and conferring political durability to the emerging political situation.

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Crise e Tradição: Uma Interpretação do Momento Político Nacional