Ollie Johnson tells a new story of Brazilian party politics by highlighting heretofore neglected issues such as the ideologies and programmatic agendas of party factions and trans-party alliances. Focusing on the rise of leftist and nationalist party forces and the reactions of conservatives and moderates, Johnson uses the concept of realignment to analyze three central aspects of the Brazilian party system: electoral evolution, intra-party competition, and supra-party legislative alliances. Johnson demonstrates that Brazil emerged from a one-party dominant system in the mid-1940s into a highly competitive, polarized, and radicalized multiparty system in the 1960s. This evolution brought new progressive elites to positions of power, introduced a reformist political agenda with distinct ideological positions, eroded older patterns of clientelism and personalism, and inevitably led to a reorganization of party forces. Contrary to those who criticize leftist leaders for the coup of 1964, Johnson shows that major political players of the left, center, and right all had opportunities for different courses of action that might have avoided the dismantling of democratic institutions. He argues that fears among political elites about the course of modernization - not reckless leaders and weak institutions - brought the parties to an impasse and crisis.
Ollie A. Johnson III is a professor of political science at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. He is the author of Brazilian Party Politics and the Coup of 1964. Karin L. Stanford was assistant professor of political science and African American studies at the University of Georgia and has served as bureau chief of the Washington office of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. She is the author of Beyond the Boundaries: Reverend Jesse Jackson in International Affairs.