Brazilian Democratic Movement


The Brazilian Democratic Movement (Portuguese: Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, MDB) is a Brazilian centrist political party.

Brazilian Democratic Movement
Movimento Democrático Brasileiro
PresidentBaleia Rossi
Secretary-GeneralJorge Caruso
Founded4 December 1965 (original MDB)
15 January 1980 (renamed as PMDB)
19 December 2017 (altered its name back to MDB)
Registered30 June 1981 (registered as PMDB)
Dissolved20 December 1979 (original MDB)
HeadquartersCâmara dos Deputados - Presidência do MDB, Ed. Principal sala T4 - Esplanada dos Ministérios
IdeologyBig tent[1][2]
Economic liberalism[3]
Economic nationalism[4]
Social conservatism[3]
Political positionCentre to centre-right[5][6]
Centre to centre-left[7][8]
Regional affiliationCOPPPAL
    Yellow, red and black
TSE Identification Number15
Chamber of Deputies
34 / 513
Federal Senate
12 / 81
7 / 27
State Assemblies
147 / 1,024
1,022 / 5,570
City Councillors
7,825 / 56,810


Poster commemorating the party's 48th anniversary (2014)
Logo of the Brazilian Democratic Movement, 1965–1979

Under military rule from 1965 to 1979, Brazil had a legally enforced two party system, with supporters of the regime gathered under the National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA) umbrella, and the official opposition making up the MDB. Essentially, the MDB comprised nearly all of the Brazilian Labour Party and the main body of the Social Democratic Party.

For much of the first decade-and-a-half of the military dictatorship, ARENA had large majorities in the federal and state legislatures, and the MDB was virtually powerless. Since the president was indirectly elected by Congress, ARENA's candidate—in practice, selected by the military high command—could not possibly be defeated. The MDB did not even put forward candidates in the first post-coup elections, in 1966 and 1969. While the MDB did put forward presidential candidates in 1974 and 1978, they were soundly defeated.

From 1979 onwards, a restricted number of parties were allowed, and nearly all of the old MDB reorganized as PMDB (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro; Brazilian Democratic Movement Party).

The MDB had been a big tent party uniting nearly all of the opposition to the military dictatorship. As such, it harboured elements ranging across the political spectrum. PMDB had a similar character to its predecessor, including a range of politicians from conservatives such as José Sarney to liberals such as Pedro Simon, leftists like Roberto Requião, populists like Íris Resende, nationalists like Orestes Quércia and the former guerrilla movement MR-8.

In 1985, party leader Tancredo Neves won the presidential election, but died before taking office. His running mate José Sarney, who had recently joined the party after defecting from the political wing of the military, became president, serving until 1990. Up until 2016, he was the only president of Brazil to come from the party. In recent presidential elections the party has not run candidates of its own, preferring to focus on congressional and gubernatorial elections.

At the legislative elections on 6 October 2002, the party won 74 out of 513 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 19 out of 81 seats in the Senate, making it one of the biggest parties in Brazil.

The party decided not to launch a candidate for the 2006 presidential election in order to be free to join any coalition in the states. Under Brazilian electoral law then, parties launching presidential candidates could not form alliances at the state level that differed at the national level (this norm was subsequently repealed). At the congressional elections in October 2006, PMDB won 89 of 513 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, becoming its biggest party; and in the Senate it had 15 of the 81 seats after its one-third renovation, becoming the third-largest party. PMDB also won seven state gubernatorial elections in the same election.

In 2010 the party made gains in the Senate, winning 16 of the elected seats for a total of 20. It was somewhat weakened in other elections, winning 79 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (becoming the second largest party) and winning five state governorships.

Notable PMDB members included: Wanderlei Silva, Tancredo Neves, Ulysses Guimarães, Itamar Franco, Orestes Quércia, Michel Temer, Anthony Garotinho, José Sarney, Renan Calheiros, Pedro Simon, Roberto Requião, Germano Rigotto, Paulo Skaf, Ramez Tebet, Marcelo Fortuna, Iris Rezende and Maguito Vilela.

On March 29, 2016, PMDB announced that it was leaving the coalition with the Workers' Party following accusations against President Dilma Rousseff and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of corruption.[9] The PMDB supported the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff. After the impeachment process began, vice president Michel Temer formed a new center-right liberal coalition government with PSDB and other parties. He was confirmed as president as Dilma was permanently removed from office by the Senate on August, 31st 2016, thus becoming the second Brazilian president to hail from PMDB.

On December 19, 2017, the party reverted to its former name, Brazilian Democratic Movement (Portuguese: Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, MDB). The move was seen as an attempt to renew party identity. The initials PMDB had become associated with corruption and cronyism, while the original acronym was associated with the struggle for democracy, according to party leader, Romero Jucá. The party announced a program based on economic liberalism, fiscal conservatism and greater openness to sectors of civil society such as evangelicals and environmentalists. The party also made it clear that it will prioritize parliamentarians who agree with the new positions of the party, which has been interpreted by many as a warning that rebel parliamentarians, especially the senator from Paraná, Roberto Requião, strongly associated with the Brazilian nationalist left (and who eventually left the party in the summer of 2021 and eventually joined the Workers' Party), and even Renan Calheiros, the President of the Federal Senate, considered one of the most powerful personalities of Brazilian politics, but who shows little alignment with Temer's government and propositions of economic liberalism, can be excluded from the party. A few days earlier, Senator Kátia Abreu of Tocantins was expelled from the party for her support of the opposition, especially for her firm stance against the pension reform, as an alignment to the PT of whom she had been allied in the mandate of Dilma Rousseff.[10][11][12][13]

The PMDB is the Brazilian political party that received the most bribes from Odebrecht. The company's "institutional relations" manager, Melo Filho, says he can find among the PMDB senators "the parliamentarians most devoted to the group's interests", but also those "who asked for the highest contributions".[14]


The original MDB was founded as a legal, civil movement of opposition to Brazilian military government. Without a clear program except the democratization of the country, the party was an umbrella of opponents of military regime, ranging from liberal conservatives and Christian democrats from parties like Christian Democratic Party and Social Democratic Party to former labourists, socialists and communists, of Brazilian Labour Party, Brazilian Socialist Party and Brazilian Communist Party. With the redemocratization, many centrists and leftists left the party and joined other parties with more consistent ideologies.

Many Christian democrats, social liberals and social democrats broke with the party in 1988 to form the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, led by Mario Covas, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, José Serra and Franco Montoro. Other PMDB members exited the party to more established left-wing parties, like the new incarnation of Brazilian Socialist Party, Communist Party of Brazil and Democratic Labour Party. In 2009, the last left-wing section of the party abandoned it and formed the Free Fatherland Party, a far left party descending from the MR-8 guerrilla. Some strong leftists, however, like senator Roberto Requião, remained in the party, but more isolated and less powerful (Requião too would eventually leave the party in July 2021). Other powerful politicians within the party, like former Rio de Janeiro governor Sérgio Cabral Filho and senator Renan Calheiros, established a neutral political stance, sometimes described as "Physiological" by critics.

The left-wing loss was strong, and as such, the positions of those who left were replaced eventually by dissidents of centrist, centre-left and even right-wing parties, who joined to avoid falling out of power (as independent candidates are not allowed to run in elections in Brazil) and/or losing feuds with local or national party leadership. This replacement changed the character of the party from a catch-all party to a centrist one with a visible centre-right tendency. The party denied the centre-right character or any strict adherence to any political ideology. The party maintains that it is an open party for any and all Brazilians committed to democracy.

The party's programme from 2015 is based on the document "Bridge to the Future" detailing the measures to be taken to modernise Brazil, including reform of the labour code, overhaul of the pension system, privatisation of some public companies and reduction of some social rights.[15]

Electoral historyEdit

Presidential electionsEdit

Election Party candidate Running mate Coalition Votes % Votes % Result
First round Second round
1974 Ulysses Guimarães (MDB) Barbosa Lima Sobrinho (MDB) None 76 16,0% - - Lost  N
1978 Euler Bentes Moreiro (MDB) Paulo Brossard (MDB) None 226 38.9% - - Lost  N
1985 Tancredo Neves (PMDB) José Sarney (PMDB) MDB; PFL 480 72.73% - - Elected  Y
1989 Ulysses Guimarães (PMDB) Waldir Pires (PMDB) None 3,204,853 4.7% - - Lost  N
1994 Orestes Quércia (PMDB) Iris de Araújo (PMDB) PMDB; PSD 2,773,497 4.4% - - Lost  N
2002 José Serra (PSDB) Rita Camata (PMDB) PSDB; PMDB 19,705,061 23.19% 33,370,739 38.72% Lost  N
2006 None None None - - - - -
2010 Dilma Rousseff (PT) Michel Temer (PMDB) (PT; PMDB; PDT; PCdoB; PSB; PR; PRB; PSC; PTC; PTN) 47,651,434 46.91% 55,752,529 56.05% Elected  Y
2014 (PT; PMDB; PSD; PP; PR; PDT; PRB; PROS; PCdoB) 43,267,668 41.59% 54,501,119 51.64% Elected  Y
2018 Henrique Meirelles (MDB) Germano Rigotto (MDB) (MDB; PHS) 1,288,948 1.20% - - Lost  N

Chamber of Deputies and Senate electionsEdit

Election Chamber of Deputies Federal Senate
Votes % Seats +/– Position Votes % Seats +/– Position
1966 4,915,470 36.0%
132 / 409
  132   2nd 5,911,361 43.4%
4 / 23
  4   2nd
1970 4,777,927 30.5%
87 / 310
  45   2nd 13,440,875 39.6%
6 / 46
  2   2nd
1974 10,954,359 48.0%
161 / 364
  74   2nd 14,486,252 59.0%
16 / 22
  10   1st
1978 14,803,526 49.6%
191 / 422
  30   2nd 17,432,948 57.1%
8 / 23
  8   2nd
1982 17,666,773 43.0%
200 / 479
  9   2nd 18,410,338 43.7%
9 / 25
  1   2nd
1986 22,633,805 47.8%
260 / 487
  60   1st
38 / 49
  29   1st
1990 7,798,653 19.3%
109 / 502
  151   1st
8 / 31
  10   1st
1994 9,287,049 20.3%
107 / 513
  2   1st
1998 10,105,609 15.2%
83 / 513
  24   3rd 13,414,074 21.7%
26 / 81
  18   1st
2002 11,692,011 13.4%
74 / 513
  9   3rd
19 / 81
  7   1st
2006 13,580,517 14.6%
89 / 513
  15   2nd 10,148,024 12.0%
16 / 81
  3   3rd
2010 12,537,252 13.0%
79 / 513
  10   2nd 23,998,949 14.1%
19 / 81
  3   2nd
2014 10,791,949 11.09%
66 / 513
  13   2nd 12,129,969 13.58%
18 / 81
  1   1st
2018 5,439,167 5.5%
34 / 513
  17   5th 12,800,290 7.5%
12 / 81
  6   1st


  1. ^ Rhodes, Sybil (2006). Social Movements and Free-Market Capitalism in Latin America. State University of New York Press. p. 117.
  2. ^ Lansford, Tom, ed. (2014). "Switzerland". Political Handbook of the World 2014. CQ Press/SAGE. p. 183.
  3. ^ a b "Direita ou esquerda? Análise de votações indica posição de partidos brasileiros no espectro ideológico". BBC News Brasil.
  4. ^ "Roberto Requião critica projeto de Temer de "neoliberal"". Jornal GGN. Retrieved 7 February 2018.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Sara Brandellero; Derek Pardue; Georg Wink, eds. (2020). Living (Il)legalities in Brazil: Practices, Narratives and Institutions in a Country on the Edge. Routledge. ISBN 9781000057683.
  6. ^ "Michel Temer: Brazil ex-president arrested in corruption probe". BBC. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2020. Mr Temer, from the centre-right MDB party, took over the Brazilian presidency in August 2016 following the impeachment of leftist Dilma Rousseff, a process in which he played a key role.
  7. ^ Power, Timothy J. (2008). Kingstone, Peter (ed.). Centering Democracy?: Ideological Cleavages and Convergence in the Brazilian Political Class. Democratic Brazil Revisited. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 89.
  8. ^ Porto, Mauro P. (2008). Democratization and Election News Coverage in Brazil. Handbook of Election News Coverage Around the World. Routledge. p. 253.
  9. ^ "Brazil's biggest party quits ruling coalition, Rousseff isolated". Reuters. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  10. ^ "PMDB aprova mudança de sigla para MDB". Poder360 (in Brazilian Portuguese). 2017-12-19. Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  11. ^ "PMDB aprova mudança de nome e passa a ser chamado MDB". G1 (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  12. ^ "PMDB muda nome para MDB e terá segmentos evangélico e socioambiental". Valor Econômico (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  13. ^ "PMDB expulsa Kátia Abreu, e Requião pode ser o próximo". O Globo (in Brazilian Portuguese). 2017-11-23. Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  14. ^ "Brazil's Odebrecht scandal". October 2017.
  15. ^ "Bolsonarism without Bolsonaro for Brazil?". December 2021.
Preceded by Numbers of Brazilian Official Political Parties
15 - BDM (MDB)
Succeeded by