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Elites and institutions in conservative transitions to democracy: Ex-authoritarians in the Brazilian National Congress

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Abstract

Although many students of democratization accept that new democracies are impacted by various legacies of the previous authoritarian regime, little attention has been paid to the relationship between characteristics of the political class and the imperative of institution building in the new democracies. Conservative transitions to democracy, where continuity in the political class remains high despite the change in regime, are notably dependent on the participation of ex-authoritarians in the process of institution-building. Many such elites were socialized to marginal or fictional representative institutions under authoritarianism, leading them toward political practices which may subsequently be inimical to the development of effective instituions under democracy. A study of ex-authoritarians in the Brazilian Congress reveals their weaker commitment to legislative institutionalization, thus illustrating some of the tradeoffs and drawbacks of conservative transitions to democracy.

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Correspondence to Timothy J. Power.

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Timothy J. Power is assistant professor of political science at Louisiana State University. He is currently writing a book on the role of the political right in Brazilian democratization.

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Power, T.J. Elites and institutions in conservative transitions to democracy: Ex-authoritarians in the Brazilian National Congress. St Comp Int Dev 31, 56–84 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02738989

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