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Photo: “Manifestação em frente ao Congresso Nacional“, by Senado Federal licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Bustamante, Thomas, and Emilio Peluso Neder Meyer. “Legislative Resistance to Illiberalism in a System of Coalitional Presidentialism: Will It Work in Brazil?” The Theory and Practice of Legislation, June 24, 2021.


Illiberal governments typically attempt to undermine representative democracy by adhering to a single comprehensive doctrine sustained through a majoritarian account of legitimacy that is suspicious of the rationality of liberal constitutional democracies. But perhaps there is hope for a system of coalitional presidentialism, such as Brazil. It has been argued that coalitional presidentialism may be in a better position to resist an illiberal project to erode democracy because of its centripetal and conservative forces, which might constitute a firewall against the concentration of powers in the executive branch. The legislature can either slow the pace of authoritarian measures or subject the government to relevant political defeats, raising the chances of democratic reconstruction. Should we expect success for legislative resistance to illiberal populism? What can the Brazilian experience under the first eighteen months of Bolsonaro’s government teach us about it? Even though it might be too early for a conclusive assessment of these matters, we try to offer in the following sections a moderately optimistic response to the first question based on our assessment of the second.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.