The Brazilian Rise and the Elusive South American Balance
24 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2015
Date Written: March 15, 2015
Within the last 50 years, the Brazilian share of South American power has increased from one-third to one-half of the overall material capabilities in the region. Such a significant change in the regional power structure cannot have gone unnoticed by Brazil’s neighbors. The article addresses the main question related to South American unipolarity (1985-2014): Why have most countries in the region not implemented any consistent balancing or bandwagoning strategies vis-à-vis Brazil? Drawing on neoclassical realism, the article proposes that certain domestic variables – government instability, limited party-system institutionalization, and powerful presidents – have diverted the attention of political elites and foreign policy executives from the challenges generated by a rising Brazil. Crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis is used to test this hypothesis and other alternative explanations for the regional imbalance.
Keywords: South America, neoclassical realism, regional powers
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