Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB)

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Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB)

The Brazilian Democratic Movement (Movimento Democrático Brasilero—MDB) was founded in 1966, after the two-year-old military regime decreed that Brazilian politics be restructured as a two-party system. Under the new two-party system, the MDB was the official opposition party and the more conservative National Renovating Alliance (ARENA) was the official pro-regime party. Following the relegalization of a multiparty system in 1979, the MDB was dissolved. The bulk of the MDB party structure and leadership subsequently formed the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB).

The MDB initially drew its membership from parties such as the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) and Social Democratic Party (PSD), which had formerly occupied the center-left end of the political spectrum before the military government purged the Congress and executive of leftist party members. As the only legal opposition party, the MDB maintained a critical stance towards the military regime's authoritarian policies, which stimulated rapid economic expansion while clamping down on political dissent and social unrest. However, the legal restrictions placed on individual and party activism circumscribed the MDB's abilities to challenge authoritarian rule.

Throughout its existence, the MDB maintained minority representation in federal and state legislatures, with the greatest party representation found in the urban, industrialized states of the Southeast and South. Although the party rarely exercised political supremacy at the federal or state levels, several of the party's most prominent members, including Ulysses Guimarães and Tancredo Neves, played crucial roles in the political re-democratization process known as abertura (1979–1985). As of 2006, the PMDB was the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies and the third largest in the Senate.

See alsoGuimarães, Ulysses Silveira; Neves, Tancredo de Almeida.


"Movimento Democrático Brasileiro," in Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro, 1930–1983, vol. 3, edited by Israel Beloch and Alzira Alves de Abreu (1984), pp. 2,322-2,324.

Maria Helena Moreira Alves, State and Opposition in Military Brazil (1985).

Maria D'Alva Gil Kinzo, Legal Opposition Politics Under Authoritarian Rule in Brazil (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Brandão, Gildo Marçal. A esquerda positiva: As duas almas do Partido Comunista, 1920–1964. São Paulo: Editora Hucitec, 1997.

Mattos, Marco Aurélio Vannucchi Leme de and Walter Cruz Swensson, Jr. Contra os inimigos da ordem: A repressão política do regime militar brasileiro, 1964–1985. Rio de Janeiro: DP & A Editora, 2003.

Mazzeo, Antonio Carlos, Maria Izabel Lagoa, and Aldo Agosti, eds. Corações vermelhos: Os comunistas brasileiros no século XX. São Paulo: Cortez Editora, 2003.

                                    Daryle Williams

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Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB)

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