Police performance is vital in consolidated democracies, but even more so in post-transition countries where public support for the regime is not yet firmly established. In many Latin American countries, as Mark Ungar and others have pointed out, law enforcement institutions had to be reformed not only to improve the capacity of the emerging democratic states but, more importantly, to prevent a return to the oppressive practices of the authoritarian past (Ungar 2011).
Academic and policy discussion have generally tended to underestimate the role that citizens play in sustaining and reproducing the phenomenon of corruption, traditionally favoring approaches focused on official actors such as bureaucrats and politicians. The impact that citizens have in the overall level of corruption in a given society, however, can only be ignored at a great risk.
Corruption and scandal are not new to Brazil. In fact, the current corruption scandal involving Petrobras, businessmen, and politicians is just the most recent in a country with a long history of corruption. In Brazil, corruption has become normalized. Some of the largest corruption scandals are explored here, namely scandals during the Lula and Collor presidencies.
In the midst of what may be called the biggest corruption scandal in Brazil of all time, how are Brazilian government agencies poised to deal with the outcomes of the Petrobras case and investigate other wrongdoings? Pretty well, as long as they are able to work together and share information.
Under what conditions do voters in Latin America’s democracies punish corrupt politicians? As many of the region’s countries approach or pass their third decade of continuous democratic government, attention has turned from questions of democratic longevity in the region to the quality of democracy that citizens experience. And in Latin America, as in many parts of the world, citizens and policy makers are increasingly preoccupied with political corruption.
On Tuesday, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff pled for her cabinet to embrace fiscal tightening and further austerity measures aimed to conquer Brazilian stagflation and “restore business confidence and growth” as she heads into her second term.1 She wants to bring down rapid inflation, about 6.5% annually, lower interest rates and stimulate spending to boost employment and raise incomes.2 In terms of tax policy, Rousseff wants to alleviate the burden on businesses, encourage private sector investment and boost export competitiveness.1