How much credit should Brazil’s presidents get for its remarkable progress since the return to democracy in 1985? Elections have been conducted smoothly, the economy has grown, poverty and inequality have declined and social indicators are improving. Did Brazil succeed because of its presidents or in spite of them? Or because of some and in spite of others?
Two presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002) and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), are often praised for their contributions. The others, José Sarney (1995-1990), Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-1992), and Itamar Franco (1992-1994) are not so frequently applauded. Indeed, Collor de Mello was impeached. But their contributions may have been underappreciated.
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