Brazilian Social Democracy Party

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Brazilian Social Democracy Party
Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira
President Aécio Neves
Founded June 25, 1988
Headquarters SGAS Q.607,Ed. Metrópolis, Mód. B Cobertura 2- AsaSul
Brasília, Brazil
Youth wing Juventude Tucana
Ideology Social democracy,[1]
Third Way,
Social liberalism,
Christian democracy
Political position Centre
International affiliation Observer status at Christian Democrat Organization of America and Centrist Democrat International
Official colours Blue & Yellow
TSE Identification Number 45
Seats in the Chamber of Deputies
53 / 513
Seats in the Senate
11 / 81

The Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Portuguese Wp→: Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira, PSDB) is a centrist[2][3][4][5][6][7] political party in Brazil. Originally a centre-left party (with social-democratic intentions, though they never held any actual strength in the unions) at the time of its foundation, PSDB moved to the centre after Fernando Henrique Cardoso forged an alliance with the right-wing Liberal Front Party and was elected President of Brazil. The third largest party in the National Congress, PSDB has been the main opposition against the administrations of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. Its mascot is a blue and yellow colored toucan; party members are called tucanos for this reason. Famous tucanos includes Mário Covas, Geraldo Alckmin, Tasso Jereissati, Aécio Neves, FHC, Franco Montoro, Aloysio Nunes, Yeda Crusius, and José Serra.

Born together as part of the social democratic opposition to the military dictatorship from the late 1970s trough the 1980s, PSDB and the Workers' Party are since the mid-1990s the bitterest rivals in current Brazilian politics — both parties de facto prohibit any kind of coalition or official cooperation with each other in all government levels.


With the imminent collapse of the military dictatorship in the early 1980s, a group of left-wing intellectuals were mobilized to create a leftist party. Some of them attempted to work with the labour movement, led by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but the group split over ideological grounds. The democratic socialists joined the labour movement and founded the Worker's Party, while the social democrats remained in the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) and would later create the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).

PSDB was founded on June 25, 1988 by members of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party linked to the European social democratic movement as an attempt to clarify their ideals. Its manifesto preached "democracy as a fundamental value" and "social justice as an aim to be reached". In its foundation, the party attempted to unite political groups as diverse as social democrats, social liberals, Christian democrats and democratic socialists.

This period when PSDB was created was a very significant moment in the history of Brazilian politics. On April 21, 1985, the Brazilian people witnessed the death of Tancredo Neves, the last president not elected directly by the people since the beginning of the dictatorial government. With the formation of new parties, including PSDB, a National Constitutional Assembly was created which drafted the current, democratic constitution, in 1988.

A high proportion of the first members of PSDB came from the so-called "historic PMDB". This was and still is a very large party with many internal conflicts. The founders of PSDB were dissatisfied with the results of the Constitutional Assembly, and decided to create a party to reflect the need for a national political renewal. As their manifesto states, the new party was created "away from the official benefits, but close to the pulsing of the streets" (taken from a speech by party leader Franco Montoro). Some of the founding members were José Serra, Mário Covas, André Franco Montoro, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Aécio Neves, and Geraldo Alckmin.

In a country where two referenda, held in 1963 and in 1993, have shown a very strong preference for a presidential system of government, as in most countries of the Americas, PSDB stands almost alone in the preference given in its manifesto to a parliamentarian system of government. However, after the electors rejected "parlamentarismo" in 1993, and even though PSDB leader Cardoso was elected President the next year, the party did nothing in the last years to further the cause of a parliamentarian regime.

PSDB is one of the largest and most significant political parties in Brazil. Its official program states its policies as being social democratic and often associated with the Third Way movement, although the party is also regarded as being influenced by neoliberalism. The party's program states that it "reject[s] populism and authoritarianism, as well as both fundamentalist neoliberalism and obsolete national-statism".[8]

Despite its name, the PSDB is not a member of the Socialist International[9] which draws together social democratic parties worldwide (the Brazilian member of the Socialist International is the Democratic Labour Party (PDT)). Also, the party has not, and has never had, the links to trade union movements that usually characterize social democratic parties; it used to sponsor a Central Union, SDS (Social-Democracia Sindical), which has now merged, together with Central Autônoma dos Trabalhadores (CAT), and the much more important Central Geral dos Trabalhadores (CGT), into the União Geral dos Trabalhadores (UGT)[7], but its impact among the unions has always been quite unimpressive compared to even much smaller parties as the PDT or the PCdoB, or to the tucanos's own influence in society at large.

Recent times

A mere six years after its creation, PSDB was able to win the Presidency of the Republic. It grew faster than any other party in Brazilian history, with an astonishingly good performance in elections at all levels. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso enjoyed eight years (1994–2002) of political stability in his tenure as president.

Because of the party's size, many members do not have the level of political education needed to spell out the real principles behind which it was founded or at least are not able to do so with the same force as its leading members.[citation needed] Yet, it remains one of the most democratic parties in the country[citation needed] and undoubtedly plays an important role in the current new era of Brazilian politics.

Accordingly its 1980 honorary president, a good summary of the PSDB's stated program is: 1 ) constant defense of democracy. 2 ) the state at a minimally needed size. 3 ) administrative decentralization. 4 ) sustainable economic growth with wealth distribution. 5 ) political reform to make stronger parties with electoral districts, accountable representatives as well as aiming to reduce and eliminate corruption.


Although PSDB declares itself as a center-left party, some people in the left rejects this definition, especially after Fernando Henrique Cardoso embraced Third Way politics as President.

Political analyst Angelo Segrillo, in an article titled "The left-right confusion in the post-Berlin Wall world", says that "most analysts defined PSDB as center-left as of its foundation, after all, it was the Brazilian Social Democratic Party". As he notes, "this story changed after 1994, with the election of PSDB to the presidency". "A rhetoric of overcoming classical ideological division (...) was one of the justifications of the grand parliamentary alliance with center and right-wing parties (...) As such, after the 1994 presidential election, most analysts started defining PSDB as a center party along with PMDB".[10] In its 2009 report about Freedom in the World, Freedom House defined the opposition coalition (formed by PSDB, PPS and Democrats) as a "center-right coalition".[11] However, in the 2010 report of the same organization, PSDB was defined as a "center-left" party.[12]

Workers' Party campaign leader Marco Aurélio de Melo criticized declarations made by PSDB president Sérgio Guerra that PSDB is "the real left". He said that "PSDB is not a right wing party, it is the right wing's party".[13]

Political alignment

PSDB questions the use of what it considers "outdated political labels", such as "left" and "right". To quote a document drafted by Fernando Henrique Cardoso's office in 1990:

"If left means to be against the existing social order, and right in favor, then social-democracy is without doubt a left current... A social democrat is before anything someone who has critical sense — who realizes the injustices of society and has no fear to oppose them, even at the risk of being taken as a subversive or a dreamer."

The party did not preach nationalization or privatization in general ("the consensus is that the state must not be too big or too small, but 'have the size and functions corresponding to the needs of the whole of society'"), although president Cardoso privatized many large public companies, such as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) and the national telecommunication system.


  1. [1]
  2. "Exclusive: Brazil opposition leader will seek economic reforms", Reuters, November 1, 2010. 
  3. [2]
  4. "Has Brazil voted for continuity?", BBC News, October 31, 2010. 
  5. [3]
  6. Foley, Conor. "Looking for Lula's successor", The Guardian, February 4, 2009. 
  7. Philips, Tom. "Working class hero", The Guardian, March 5, 2010. 
  8. [4]
  9. [5]
  10. Segrillo, Angelo (2004). "A confusão esquerda-direita no mundo pós-Muro de Berlim [The left-right confusion in the post-Berlin Wall world]" (in Portuguese). Dados 47: 615–632. . . "A maioria dos analistas classificava o PSDB na centro-esquerda quando de sua criação (...) A estória torna-se outra após 1994, com a chegada do PSDB à presidência. Uma retórica de superação das divisões ideológicas clássicas (...) foi um dos fundamentos justificativos da grande aliança parlamentar com partidos de centro e direita (...). Tanto que, após a eleição presidencial de 1994, a maioria dos analistas passou a classificar o PSDB como partido de centro junto com o PMDB.". 
  11. Freedom House (July 16, 2009). "Freedom in the World 2009 - Brazil". UNHCR.,FREEHOU,,BRA,4a6452cb23,0.html. "In early 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (...) forged a three-party, centrist coalition around his Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB)." 
  12. Map of Freedom in the World. URL accessed on 14 de junho de 2010.
  13. [6]

External links

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