National Renewal Alliance Party

National Renewal Alliance Party

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The National Renewal Alliance Party or Aliança Renovadora Nacional (ARENA) was a conservative political party that existed in Brazil between 1966 and 1985. It was the official party of the military that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

Up to 1965, there were three main parties in Brazil: the left-populist Brazilian Labour Party (PTB), the liberal Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the conservative National Democratic Union (UDN). In 1964, the government of President João Goulart was overthrown by a military coup d'etat, but in contrast to other Latin American dictatorships, the Brazilian military-controlled government did not abolish Congress. Instead, in 1965, the government banned all existing political parties and created a two-party system. Most of the politicians from PSD and UDN formed the ARENA, the government party, while most from the PTB and some from the PSD formed the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), the opposition.

ARENA was a docile instrument of the military to rubber-stamp its agenda. Most agree that, at first, the MDB did not have any chance to pass or block any legislation. During most of the early part of the military regime, Brazil was, for all intents and purposes, a one-party state. In the legislative elections of 1966 and 1970, ARENA won a vast majority of the seats, but in the election of 1974, MDB took many more seats than expected and almost gained a majority. The government reacted by passing legislation restricting the power of the opposition, and even succeeded in annulling the mandates of some Congressmen of the MDB.

In 1979, in a manoeuvre to divide the opposition, the government ended the bipartisan party system, and the ARENA became the Democratic Social Party (PDS).

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