Starting Over

Starting Over: Brazil Since 1985

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Starting Over
    Book Description:

    Brazil has undergone transformative change since the 1980s, from an authoritarian regime to a democratic society advancing on all fronts -political, social, economic, and diplomatic. InStarting Over, Albert Fishlow traces the evolution of this member of the BRICS group over the last twenty-five years and looks toward the future as the newly elected president, Dilma Rousseff, follows her very popular predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or "Lula."

    The transformation of the country began with the founding of the Nova República and the Constitution of 1988, which established a strong executive and encased key social principles such as a citizen's right to education and health care. Then the Real Plan of 1994 -initiated under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso -set the stage for economic growth and a stable economy. There were setbacks, especially in the mid-1990s with the Mexican devaluation, Asian financial crisis, Russian default, and Argentine collapse, and, later, the U.S. recession. But changed economic policies in the late 1990s put Brazil on the right path to future economic growth, which resumed during the Lula years.

    With popular participation in the electoral process at an all-time high, politics has been profoundly altered in Brazil. Economic rules are now more permanent, and economic advance more regular. A healthier and longer life is now available to a broader swath of the population, and there is opportunity for social advancement. In addition, its foreign policy has greater consequence internally as well as externally.

    Dilma's two immediate predecessors -Cardoso and Lula -are tough acts to follow.Their influence has been profound, and Brazil is now a very different nation than it was in the 1980s. But she is working from their template to move the country forward. This insightful book clearly explains how and why the country has progressed to its current standing and what the future portends.Starting Overis essential reading for anyone trying to grasp what is happening in this dynamic nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2144-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    Brazil has undergone transformative change since its return to civil rule in 1985. The country has started over. As electoral participation has widened, politics has altered. Effective economic policies have become permanent, and economic advance has become more widespread and consistent. With rising income a healthier and longer life is available to a much broader swath of the population, and there is increased opportunity for social advancement. And Brazil’s foreign policy has assumed greater importance within a multipolar world.

    The Economistfeatured Brazil in its issue of November 14, 2009. According to the final words both of the lead editorial...

  5. 2 Political Change
    (pp. 6-32)

    Constitutional change dominated the agenda following the return to civilian government. The new National Congress, elected in November 1986, served simultaneously as the Constituent Assembly with direct responsibility for promulgating the constitution. That effort required almost two years before completion and enlisted Brazilian society in all its modern diversity. Extensive participation by the public, as well as by nongovernmental organizations, was encouraged. On the other side, lobbies representing various economic interests were always present, ready to exert their influence on virtually every subject.

    Radical change, although advocated by some, did not occur within the traditional three areas of governance. Attempts...

  6. 3 Economic Growth Is the Priority
    (pp. 33-86)

    Over the last twenty-five years, the Brazilian economy dramatically changed. In 1985 inflation and debt owed to the outside world were the main subjects of interest. Today, a fast-growing Brazil is a respected and active participant within the Group of Twenty. That transformation is the subject of this chapter, which is organized around six topics.

    The first subject, not surprisingly, is inflation. Its mounting level, until successful stabilization in 1994, prevented progress. In 1999, with devaluation of thereal, and once again in 2003, with Lula’s election, doubts emerged about continuity of stability.

    A second part deals with a revamped...

  7. 4 Sustaining Social Progress
    (pp. 87-139)

    The New Republic faced an inherited social debt. Prior Brazilian economic growth led to only marginal gains in education, health, and old age security. Advances occurred, but almost always, they were skewed in favor of the well situated. As a single indicator, the high degree of Brazilian inequality stands out. Earlier policy had not compensated for the sometimes harsh outcomes of the marketplace.

    The Constitution of 1988, as promulgated, was unequivocal in its commitment to social progress. Implementation was another matter. Only after economic issues began to be resolved after 1994 could progress be made. Expenditures for education and health...

  8. 5 Foreign Policy in a Changing World
    (pp. 140-185)

    Brazilian foreign policy took on increasing importance as the country returned to civil leadership. Globalization had an impact economically and, subsequently, politically. During these years, four issues merit detailed discussion.

    The first is closer convergence of Argentina and Brazil. Never before had these neighbors pursued joint policies as actively. This tale of Mercosul (known as Mercosur in Spanish) incorporates the boldness of the initiative but also stresses its limits: trade among the Mercosul countries, adjusted for inflation, has exceeded its 1997 level only recently. Differences in domestic macroeconomic policy in these two countries help explain why.

    Second is regional policy....

  9. 6 Evaluating the Past and Looking to the Future
    (pp. 186-196)

    Anticipating Dilma Rousseff’s election as Brazil’s president,The Economiststated: “Success has bred an atmosphere of hubris in Brasília. With the outlook for the world economy so uncertain, that is potentially dangerous. . . . [T]here are three difficult sets of issues . . . Ms. Rousseff will have to deal with. The first is corruption. . . . The second concerns the role of the state in the economy. . . . The third test . . . will be in foreign policy.”¹

    There are questions regarding Brazil’s capacity to sustain its surge forward. Abiding Brazilian evolution within a...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 197-220)
  11. Index
    (pp. 221-236)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-239)