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By Bolivar Lamounier

Focusing on the Brazilian case, the author examines some of the hypotheses already advanced to explain the process of liheralization (or re-democratization). Reviewing four criteria of democracy (nondiscriminatory rules, electoral uncertainty, a regular electoral calendar, and freedom of the press), he states that a certain degree of redemocratization has indeed occurred in Brazil. He then proceeds to challenge three "economic" interpretations: (a) the attempt to link re-democratization to periods of economic expansion (or recession); (b) the view of re-democratization as a project of a local bourgeoisie fighting against multinational and, especially, State capital; and (c) the notion that re-democratization expresses the need to initiate redistributive policies, after a phase in which accumulation has been emphasized. But he concludes that economic concepts, at a higher level of abstraction, may be useful as a means to clarify the political logic of the re-democratization process.


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