chapter  3
15 Pages

Education, Citizenship and the Construction of a New Democracy in Brazil

ByTRISTAN MCCOWAN, CLEONICE PUGGIAN

Brazil is, in many ways, a highly democratic country. The Constitution of 1988 guarantees extensive civil and social rights, and electoral participation is almost universal on account of compulsory voting laws and an effi cient electronic voting system. Nevertheless, these formal aspects hide signifi cant political marginalisation in practice. Brazil has amongst the highest rates of socio-economic inequality in the world, the income of the richest 10 percent of the population being 51.3 times that of the poorest 10 percent (UNDP 2008). The severe poverty of a large portion of the population, combined with deeply ingrained privilege and abuse of power on the part of local and national elites, has put limits on effective participation in political affairs.