Dados vol. 25 n. 1 Rio de Janeiro 1982

Cartórios na Cena Política

Araújo, Rosa Maria Barboza de


Public notaries are entrusted by Brazil's complex bureaucracy with the responsibility for carrying on a number of functions essential for social life. The public notary's office, which operates under governmental delegation as an auxiliary body to the courts, has also a function to perform in the political realm. Private provision of a public service is a profitable activity often used as patronage by ruling elites. The choice of incumbents results from a reward for services rendered or from a political bargain. The reward can be bestowed in exchange for individual support for the incumbent administration whereas the bargain is part of a broader exchange between those who govern and the governed. The author analyzes the relations between public notaries and the Executive, based on appointments made in Rio de Janeiro from 1930 onwards, to show that there has been a historical trend towards the public control of public notary's offices, resulting in the coexistence of two different legal systems regulating the same public service. The author argues that this duality has been perpetuated due to the existence of powerful private interests. To totally transform these private offices into public offices would imply a drastic reorganization of the patronage system and the management of ensuing economic and political costs.

Full text

Cartórios na Cena Política