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Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB)

Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB)

The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro—PMDB) is one of the few Brazilian parties to have maintained a political profile consistent with that which it had at the time of its founding in the 1970s. When, in 1965, the military regime banned existing parties, a diversified group of opposition forces formed the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB). The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party formally came into being when the 1979 reform reinstated the multiparty system, and it has remained the country's largest party, albeit in a context of extreme and continuing political fragmentation. During the process of Distensão (gradual liberalization) carried out by the military government in the 1970s, PMDB's widest support generally came from the urban and industrialized centers of south central Brazil, but it became a progressively national party owing to local municipal organizational efforts throughout the country. Largely because of its organizational power and its identification with resistance to military government, the PMDB was well prepared to garner popular support once redemocratization began in earnest.

The party's historical trajectory can be outlined as follows: First, in the context of the restrictions imposed by the authoritarian regime, it firmly established itself as the party of resistance and won widespread popular support in elections held in the late 1970s. Second, during the 1980s it continued its strategy as a catchall party, but given the multiplication of parties and the resulting dispersion of the federal and state parliaments into numerous factions, its dimensions were substantially reduced. Finally, as of 2007, it continues as a party linked to popular interests.

The PMDB's greatest victory came in the general elections of 1986 and can be attributed to the momentary, preelection success of President José Sarney's economic plan, which included wage and price freezes. Since then, two events have contributed to the party's loss of electoral support: a 1988 internal rift in which the left wing abandoned ship to form its own party—the Brazilian Social Democratic Party—and the first post-authoritarian presidential elections, in 1989, when none of the larger parties, PMDB included, were able to capture the votes of the electorate. As of 2006, the PMDB was the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies and the third largest in the Senate.

See alsoBrazil, Political Parties: Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB)xml .


Olavo Brasil de Lima Júnior, "Electoral Participation in Brazil (1945–1978): The Legislation, the Party System, and Electoral Turnouts," Luso-Brazilian Review 20, no. 1 (1983): 65-92.

Maria d'Alva Gil Kinzo, Oposição e autoritarianismo: Gẽnese e trajetória do MDB (1988).

Thomas E. Skidmore, The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964–1985 (1988).

Alfred Stepan, ed., Democratizing Brazil: Problems of Transition and Consolidation (1989).

Olavo Brasil de Lima Júnior, Democracia e instituições politícas no Brasil dos anos 80 (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Ferreira, Denise Paiva. PFL × PMDB: Marchas e contramarchas (1982–2000). Goiânia, Brazil: Editora Alternativa, 2002.

Friedman, Sofia. Brazil, 1960–1990: Structures of Power and Processes of Change. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2003.

Luna, Francisco Vidal, and Herbert S Klein. Brazil Since 1980. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Melhem, Celia Soibelmann. Política de botinas amarelas: O MDB-PMDB paulista de 1965 a 1988. São Paulo: Editora Hucitec; Departamento de Ciência Política, USP, 1998.

                          Olavo Brasil de Lima JÚnior

                                     Douglas Cole Libby

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