THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN BRAZILThis thesis deals with the transition to democracy in Brazil from 1979 to 1989. We discuss the dilemmas of social and economic development that played a role in the demise of the authoritarian regime and take into consideration changes in the civil society and the electoral system that made the transition process possible.Theorists of comparative politics have sought to understand transitions to democracy in developing countries by using strategic choice analysis or elite theory. The models usually have a top down approach; it is the choices and strategies of political elites that are important in shaping a democratic future. We find that these models tend to overemphasize the role of political factors and the behavior of elites in a process of democratization. It would be useful to include historical-structural conditions in the shaping of the choices of elites.Strategic choice analysis explains why a democratic political culture develops in a society. By stressing that political actors act under uncertainty in a transition process, strategic choice analysis is able to illustrate why political elites with different points of view enter into alliances and bargain with each other to gain influence over scarce political goods, such as power and influence. Democracy gains support even among earlier hard-line supporters of a military regime because they see it as the second best solution in a period of uncertainty.Social, economic, and political factors that contribute to problems in the process of consolidating the democratic regime in the 1990s are discussed. We find that increasing socioeconomic inequality is a threat to the Brazilian democracy. Common poverty and unsatisfying conditions for the working class can, in the long run, create a climate of authoritarian nostalgia. The continued presence of the military in the political system and the historical heritage of corporatism causes problems for the new democratic rulers.Stagnation in the political system and a bloated public sector seem to cause an ungovernability syndrome in the Brazilian society. Therefore political and economic reforms are necessary to make Brazilians participate more actively in the political system. If Brazil is going to be governed by a conservative political elite that represents a small segment of the population these reforms will, most likely, be exclusive and not benefit the poor people. The middle and working class will have difficulties agreeing on strategies of democratization in a society that is highly stratified, and a weak party system contributes to polarize the elites. These factors contribute to the difficulties in consolidating a democratic regime.