Is it political culture, social cleavages or inherited institutions that has the most significant influence on the current problems facing the consolidation of

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The unprecedented reelection f Fernando Henrique Cardoso in October 1998 raised hopes inside and outside Brazil that the reforms initiated since his Piano Real would be consolidated and expanded. Reelection guaranteed continuity, thus increasing the prospects f success.


The repercussions f the Russian and Asian financial crises, together with the apparent fraying f Cardoso's governing coalition and a unilateral moratorium on federal debts declared by some states, exposed the fiscal and political fragility f Cardoso's policy agenda. Brazil's ability to recover quickly from the global economic shocks and Cardoso's success in winning legislative assent on major structural reforms as f May 2000 reveal as much his political skill as the many overlooked strengths and growing versatility f the Brazilian political system.
The discussions in the texts to be reviewed here place in crisper perspective the political and institutional conundrum facing Cardoso's administration. The seven books share many features. Each in its own way addresses critical political and institutional issues facing Brazil today. For most f these analysts, the central question is, why has Brazil's new democracy performed so poorly in terms f redistributive reforms and democratic governance Why has the return to democracy resulted in neither good governance nor improvements in the country's profound social deficit While the authors have their own distinctive approaches and ways f framing f the central problem, this review will focus mainly on the themes f democratic governance and social welfare. As a group, the works under review here reveal four shortcomings. ...
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