Neves, Tancredo de Almeida (1910–1985)

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Neves, Tancredo de Almeida (1910–1985)

Tancredo de Almeida Neves was elected president of Brazil in 1985 but died before taking office. Born in São João del Rei, Minas Gerais, Neves moved in 1928 to Belo Horizonte to attend law school. In 1932 he returned to his hometown and opened a law office. He married and had three children. He served as public prosecutor for the local judicial district and in 1934 was elected city council member, acceding to the office of president of the municipal legislature. Following the 1937 coup that mandated the closing of all legislative bodies, Neves lost his position and resumed practicing law.

In 1947 his political career was launched anew when he was elected state deputy on the Social Democratic Party (PSD) ticket. In 1950 he took a seat as a federal deputy and served on the committee for transportation, communication, and public works from 1951 to 1953. Neves gave up his seat to head the ministry of justice under President Getúlio Vargas. He opposed any attempts to remove Vargas from office in 1954 and returned to the chamber of deputies after Vargas's suicide.

Supported by a center-labor coalition, Neves won the governorship of Minas Gerais in 1960. In 1961 he was appointed prime minister of Brazil by President João Goulart but willingly relinquished the post in 1962, and was soon elected majority leader of the Social Democratic Party. In the 1966 elections Neves, now affiliated with the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), was elected to Congress and represented Minas Gerais for many years. In 1982 he was elected vice president of the new centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) and once again became governor of Minas Gerais.

A consummate politician with a unique ability to bring together factions from the right and the left, Neves prevailed against the handpicked candidate of the military administration and in January 1985 was declared president by the electoral college. On the eve of taking office in March 1985, Neves became ill and underwent surgery but did not recover. His running mate, José Sarney, assumed the presidency. Neves's death had a powerful emotional effect on much of the Brazilian population.

See alsoBrazil, Political Parties: Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB); Brazil, Political Parties: Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB).


Bandeira, Luiz Alberto Moniz. O Governo João Goulart: As lutas sociais no Brasil, 1961–1964, 7th edition. Rio de Janeiro: Revan, 2001.

Dulles, John W. F. Vargas of Brazil. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967.

Silva, Vera Alice Cardoso, and Lucília de Almedia Neves Delgado. Tancredo Neves: A trajetória de um liberal. Petrópolis, Brazil: Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 1985.

Skidmore, Thomas E. Politics in Brazil, 1930–1964: An Experiment in Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Skidmore, Thomas E. The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964–85. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

                                   IÊda Siqueira Wiarda

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Neves, Tancredo de Almeida (1910–1985)

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