National Renovating Alliance (ARENA)

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National Renovating Alliance (ARENA)

In an effort to reduce the number of political parties, considered a root cause of Brazil's problems, and to instill discipline in the political system, the military regime of Humberto Castello Branco issued the Second Institutional Act on 27 October 1965 and the Complementary Act No. 4 on 30 November 1965. The former act dissolved all existing political parties in Brazil, while the latter act allowed the formation of political organizations only if such bodies were endorsed by at least 120 congressmen and 20 senators. The result was the formation of two parties: National Renovating Alliance (Aliança Renovardora Nacional—ARENA) and the Brazilian Democratic Movement (Movimento Democratico Brasileiro—MDB), an opposition party.

Despite appearances, the various military administrations in Brazil maintained tight control of ARENA and the political system. The president of the republic was head of the party and selected all its candidates. ARENA politicians were in the majority in both houses of Congress and in all the state assemblies, and they also held most of the governorships and mayoral offices. However, the 1974 congressional and state assembly elections, held during the period of political relaxation, indicated the growing strength of the MDB opponents. As opposition to the military government grew, ARENA politicians gradually attempted to distance themselves from identification with the military regime.

In an effort to strengthen the weakened government party by splitting the opposition or by forming coalitions with more conservative elements of the opposition, the government of João Baptista de Figueiredo dissolved the two-party system and allowed the creation of multiple parties. By the end of 1979 ARENA had re-formed as the Social Democratic Party (Partido Democrático Social—PDS). The PDS was defeated soundly in the 1985 presidential election that returned Brazil to civilian rule.

See alsoCastello Branco, Humberto de Alencarxml .


Peter Flynn, Brazil: A Political Analysis (1978).

Ronald M. Schneider, The Political System of Brazil: Emergence of a "Modernizing" Authoritarian Regime, 1964–1970 (1971).

Riordon Roett, Brazil: Politics in a Partrimonial Society (1978).

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

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

Additional Bibliography

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. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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

                                           Sonny B. Davis

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National Renovating Alliance (ARENA)

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National Renovating Alliance (ARENA)