Eroding Military Influence in Brazil

Politicians Against Soldiers

By Wendy Hunter

260 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 figs., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4620-9
    Published: March 1997
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6220-9
    Published: November 2000

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Awards & distinctions

A 1997 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Wendy Hunter explores civil-military relations in Brazil following the transition to civilian leadership in 1985. She documents a marked, and surprising, decline in the political power of the armed forces, even as they have remained involved in national policy making. To account for the success of civilian politicians, Hunter invokes rational-choice theory in arguing that politicians will contest even powerful forces in order to gain widespread electoral support.

Many observers expected Brazil's fledgling democracy to remain under the firm direction of the military, which had tightly controlled the transition from authoritarian to civilian rule. Hunter carefully refutes this conventional wisdom by demonstrating the ability of even a weak democratic regime to expand its autonomy relative to a once-powerful military, thanks to the electoral incentives that motivate civilian politicians. Based on interviews with key participants and on extensive archival research, Hunter's analysis of developments in Brazil suggests a more optimistic view of the future of civilian democratic rule in Latin America.

About the Author

Wendy Hunter is assistant professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.
For more information about Wendy Hunter, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

“The best new book on Latin American civil-military relations. . . . Hunter convincingly shows [that] the political power of the Brazilian military has eroded significantly since civilian government was reestablished.”--Latin American Research Review

"Hunter's important and exemplary study stands as a model of organization, analysis, and clarity."--Choice

"A significant contribution to the literature on post-transition civil-military relations. Hunter convincingly challenges the conventional wisdom that military tutelage in new democracies will necessarily continue or get worse. Brazil is an important example of declining military prerogatives, resulting from the competitive logic of democratic politics, even in the absence of strong civilian institutions."--J. Samuel Fitch, University of Colorado