The reaction of the political incumbent elites in the Brazilian democratic opening

Vol. 35 No. 3 (2015)

Jul-Sep / 2015
Published July 1, 2015
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Bruce, Raphael, and Rudi Rocha. 2015. “The Reaction of the Political Incumbent Elites in the Brazilian Democratic Opening”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 35 (3):645-60.

The reaction of the political incumbent elites in the Brazilian democratic opening

Raphael Bruce
Raphael Bruce é aluno do Mestrado em Economia do Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas da Universidade de São Paulo (IPE-USP).
Rudi Rocha
Professor Adjunto do Instituto de Economia da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (IE/UFRJ).
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 35 No. 3 (2015), Jul-Sep / 2015, Pages 645-660


This paper examines one of the possible channels through which incumbent elites aligned with the Brazilian dictatorship were able to withhold their political power during the democratization in the 1980s. Based on national household survey data and results from legislative elections, we first find that recently franchised illiterate voters who lived in states that were dominated by the elite party during the dictatorship had a higher probability to register to vote than those who lived in other states. We then investigate whether this positive correlation represents a reaction from the incumbent elites in order to keep their political power through voter manipulation or a reaction from these voters in order to remove the power from the oligarchies. We find that, in states dominated by the elite party, illiterates had higher probability of being politically uninterested and uninformed. Our results suggest that a politically motivated reaction from this population is implausible.

JEL Classification: D72; D78; I25.

Keywords: democratization elites rural oligarchy