Presently, many countries worldwide have embraced democracy as a form of government. Democracy, which is the government by the people, protects the interests of the majority in the nation. Many People can currently exercise their civil rights, including the right to vote for their desired representatives or political parties under the democratic government, contrary to other forms of government like autocracy whereby people are ruled by a dictator who suppresses the peoples’ rights. Today, several nations have attained democracy after undergoing various forms of unfair governing either by one person or groups of people, however, some countries like Brazil are encompassed by barriers in developing democracy.
Since Brazil gained its independence in 1822 (International IDEA, 2016), the country has been under the rule of several forms of government comprising of autonomy, centralization, monarchy, as well as democracy. The nation adopted the monarchical political system after gaining independence, with the Portuguese prince as the emperor (International IDEA, 2016). The emperor had absolute sole power over the nation. Additionally, according to International IDEA (2016), the 1824 constitution gave the emperor a wide control over central institutions like the legislature, and the provincial government. During this era of monarchical governance, the Brazilian citizens barely exercised their civil rights. It was not until the year 1894 when eligible Brazilians voted for their first democratic president, following the formation of the first republican constitution of 1891 (History World). The constitution established the presidential system as well as the universal male suffrage as from the age of 21 years (International IDEA, 2016). Furthermore the constitution had provisions for power separation, direct elections in addition to federal chambers.
Although Brazil had adopted democracy after the formation of its republic, authoritarian rule is still in practice by the country’s leaders. Based on History World, political leaders like Getulio Vargas organized military revolt that led to a Coup in order to seize power. Previously, Vargas had lost presidency during elections thus compelled to use force to acquire power. Vargas deployed authoritarian rule and changed the constitution which increased his power over Brazil until 1954 when he was forced by the senior officers to resign. Several Brazilian presidents were overthrown by the army due to dictatorship and authoritarianism. Similarly, Hagopian and Mainwaring (1987) argue that the intended democratic pillars of Brazil are more authoritarian than democratic, especially the political institutions like the congress and the parties. This mix-up gives authoritarian leaders power to thrive in the assumed democratic nation. The old regime political leaders equally resist policies that might cause power distribution changes thus protecting their authoritarian rule. For Brazil to attain a stable democracy, they need to adopt the representative type of democracy which has intermediaries. The elected representatives are responsible for making vital decisions on behalf of their people and are always held accountable of their decisions. Therefore, the representatives are obliged to ensure that the people’s interests are taken into account. Furthermore, egalitarian is achieved through representative democracy thus promoting equality.
For some countries like Brazil, transitioning of political systems to democracy has proven difficult due to the authoritarian practices by the Brazilian leaders. Some leaders change the constitution in their favor thus become powerful and rule according to their desires. Authoritarianism has impeded complete adoption of democracy in Brazil over a long period of time. Brazil can therefore institute a representative democracy in order to achieve political stability as well as promoting equal opportunities to its citizens.
Hagopian, F & Mainwaring, S. (1987). Democracy in Brazil: Origins, Problems, Prospects. Kellogg Institute. Retrieved from https://kellogg.nd.edu/sites/default/files/old_files/documents/100_0.pdf
History World, (n.d). History of Brazil. History World. Retrieved from http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=nwr
International IDEA, (2016). Constitutional History of Brazil. International IDEA. Retrieved from http://constitutionnet.org/country/constitutional-history-brazil