The Workers` Party and Democratization in Brazil


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Margaret E. Keck

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As the first legal mass party on the left in Brazil's recent history, the Workers' Party has both reflected and contributed to the country's transition from military rule to democracy. The party has posed an important challenge to traditionally elitist patterns of politics in Brazil; in 1989 its candidate came within six percentage points of winning the presidential election. The book—the first major study of the Workers' Party—sheds new light on significant changes in Brazilian political organization and society over the past two decades.
Drawing on the written source material as well as on extensive interviews, Margaret E. Keck describes the origins and formative years of the Workers' Party. She places the birth of the party in the context of the burgeoning political opposition to military rule in Brazil, showing how the development of the party was both constrained and sustained by the process of democratization. Keck discusses the essential differences between the Workers' Party and all other Brazilian parties created during the transition: its ongoing relation with an increasingly well organized and combative sector of the labor movement; its appeal to such new popular movements as women's groups and environmental groups; and its unique internal structure, which is more elaborate and democratic than that of all the other parties. Her history of the Workers' Party and the labor movement with which it is associated not only clarifies political movements in Brazil and Latin America but also gives insights into attempts in any country to create democratic parties that represent the popular classes.

"A fine first volume by a young scholar. This well-researched and stimulating study analyzes the origins and evolution of a moving target: the Brazilian Workers' Party."—Foreign Affairs

"A valuable contribution to our knowledge of Brazilian labor and party politics."—Ronald H. Chilcote, Latin America

"A wonderful book. The arguments are convincing, the prose, refreshingly clear. . . . Her study will likely be foundational and indelible for subsequent scholarship on the Workers' party."—Ben Ross Schneider, American Political Science Review

"An important contribution to studies of contemporary party politics, its comparative value is enhanced by systematic reference to work on party formation and organization in Europe."—Paul Cammack, Political Studies

"A book rich in detail and insight. . . . An original and innovative interpretation of the formative years of the leftist Partido dos Trabalhadores. . . . [A] fine monograph."—John D. French, Contemporary Sociology

"Beautifully and clearly written, The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil is a pleasure to read. Keck's historical interpretation is well-informed by a wide range of theoretical ideas. . . . Keck's book makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of political participation by popular sectors and of resurgent party politics in the context of democratic transitions."—Kurt Weyland, The Americas

"A carefully researched and well-written account of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) and its relationship to democratization. . . . The best book available on the PT and is an important contribution to the literature on Brazilian politics and on leftist parties. The definitive study of the period from 1979 to 1985, it is theoretically and comparatively well informed."—Scott Mainwaring, Latin American Research Reviews

"An excellent book and a first-rate contribution to the literature on Brazil, on leftist parties, and on democratic transition."—Timothy F. Harding

Winner of the 1993 New England Council on Latin American Studies Book Award
ISBN: 9780300063196
Publication Date: February 22, 1995
334 pages, 6 1/4 x 9 1/2