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National Democratic Union of Brazil (UDN)

National Democratic Union of Brazil (UDN)

Founded in April 1945 as a coalition of groups opposed to the Estado Novo, an authoritarian regime headed by Getúlio Vargas, the National Democratic Union (União Democrática Nacional—UDN) maintained a prominent role in Brazilian politics until the party was disbanded in 1965. During its existence, party membership and party platforms were in constant tension between moderates and hard-liners. In general the party tended to represent moderate-to-conservative, middle-class interests, supporting basic democratic processes, morality in public life, and state nonintervention in the economy. The UDN sharply opposed the populist, nationalist elements of the presidencies of Getúlio Vargas (1951–1954), Juscelino Kubitschek (1956–1961), and João Goulart (1961–1964). In 1964 the UDN supported military intervention to restore economic stability and combat alleged communist infiltration of Brazilian politics and society. After disbandment in 1965, most party members joined the pro-government National Renovating Alliance (Aliança de Renovação Nacional—ARENA).

The party fielded four presidential candidates: Eduardo Gomes (defeated in 1945 and 1950), Juarez Távora (defeated in 1955), and Jânio Quadros (victorious in 1960). The UDN enjoyed greater electoral success in national legislative races, winning enough seats to become the principal opposition party from 1945 to 1960, and in state elections, particularly in the Northeast, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro. The UDN consistently experienced difficulties in reconciling its heterogeneous bases of support, which ranged from staunch anticommunists who often called for military intervention to moderates who advocated stable political and economic development through democratic measures.

See alsoEstado Novo; Vargas, Getúlio Dornelles.


Thomas Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, 1930–1964: An Experiment in Democracy (1967).

Maria Vitória Benevides, A UDN e o udenismo (1981).

Maria Vitória Benevides, "União Democrático Nacional," in Dicionário históricobiográfico brasileiro (1984), pp. 3396-3403.

Otávio Soares Dulci, A UDN e o anti-populismo no Brasil (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Fernandes, Clever Luiz, and Reginaldo Lima de Arquino. A UDN e o PSD goianos: Ensaio de história política (1945–1966). Goiania, Brazil: Kelps, 2005.

Johnson, Ollie A. Brazilian Party Politics and the Coup of 1964. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001.

                                          Daryle Williams

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