The Economist, 4/3/2014
“FIFTY shades of pink” is how Luiz Felipe d’Avila of the Centre for Public Leadership, a think-tank, describes Brazil’s political spectrum. In fact, the country has just 32 registered parties. But Mr d’Avila is correct when it comes to tinge: 26 have names that are Pythonesque combinations of words like “social”, “democrat” and “workers”. “Even those who are not on the left do not call themselves the right,” says Jairo Nicolau, a psephologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
The aversion to anything that is labelled “right-wing” is a legacy of the country’s military dictatorship, which took power in a coup 50 years ago this week and only gave it up again in 1985. That is understandable, if not entirely fair. The military regime followed a set of policies—support for national champions, tolerance of cartels, trade protection, redistributive cash-transfer programmes and just a dash of macroeconomic orthodoxy to keep the markets sweet—that would not be out of place in left-leaning France.
For all their “progressive sugar-coating”, says Roberto Unger of Harvard University, parties in Brazil today more or less hew to this model. In that respect, he remarks, you could call them “conservative”.