The Party Fragmentation Paradox in Brazil: A Shield Against Authoritarianism?

Brazil features possibly the most fragmented party system in the world. Currently, there are 25 parties in the Lower House and 16 in the Senate. Presidents need thereby to build stable and disciplined political coalitions or they will face serious difficulties in advancing their agenda. Such a high level of party fragmentation, which is a structural dysfunctionality, may paradoxically serve as a shield against radical and authoritarian intents by the executive power. Brazil may be experiencing such a paradox: a dysfunctionality of its political system may well function to protect democracy against a president whose authoritarian mindset is undisputed. How parliaments behave and react to the rise of an authoritarian figure in the executive power may possibly play a more fundamental role in protecting democracy than constitutional courts themselves. This paper explores this still underexplored phenomenon as an invitation for further comparative analyses.