Liberal Democratic Support in Contemporary Brazil: A Descriptive Exploration


How do democratic attitudes map onto politic-economic context? We examine this question with a decade’s worth of high-quality data on public opinion and democratic quality in Brazil. From this empirical foundation, we analyze the observable implications of four theoretical perspectives – democratic culture, performance-based instrumentality, winners’ consent, and thermostatic dynamics. Our results suggest that during the periods of economic boom and bust, instrumental performance-based perspectives appear moste valid. But during the recent era of democratic backsliding, the evidence is more compatible with two models: one in which supporters of the incumbent tolerate the erosion of civil liberties and political rights, and another model that predicts an attitudinal backlash against falling levels of democracy during the final years of the Bolsonaro government. These conclusions are tentative. More data is required to substantiate them and more rigorously test their empirical expectations.
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