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Akkoyunlu, Karabekir and Lima, José Antonio (2021) 'Brazil’s Stealth Military Intervention.' Journal of Politics in Latin America, 14 (1). pp. 31-54.

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Between 2016 and 2020, a group of activist generals successfully plotted the Brazilian military's gradual return to the political center stage with powers unseen since the dictatorship. They achieved this without formally breaking the law, suspending the democratic process or overthrowing the government. We call this a “stealth intervention,” an incremental yet systematic attempt to redesign politics without causing a rupture, that fits neither in the existing typology of coups nor in the literature on democratic backsliding. We argue that Brazil’s stealth intervention, built upon the military’s existing tutelary prerogatives and driven by an unreformed praetorian worldview that resurfaced amidst a sustained crisis of democracy, challenges the prevalent view of the armed forces as a reactive force that intervenes in civilian politics only when its institutional interests are threatened. Finally, we show that democratic backsliding in Brazil started under Bolsonaro’s predecessor, Michel Temer, and point to the generals’ understudied role in this process.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Armed forces, stealth intervention, civilian control, military contestation, democratic backsliding, Brazil
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 18684890
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s) 2021
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2022 09:42

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