The Forgotten People in Brazilian Constitutionalism: Revisiting Strategic Behavior Analyses of Regime Transitions
International Journal of Constitutional Law (I-CON), 2017, Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2016 Last revised: 15 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 5, 2016
Strategic behavior and game theory models of regime transitions have long dominated the constitutional and political science landscape. Even so, disagreements, controversies, and dilemmas over the causes and consequences of the process of democratization are a common ground among those distinct theories, bringing about a great deal of inconsistency. Particularly intriguing, however, is that, while normally focusing on the strategic behavior of political and economic elites, little attention has been given to the distinct groups of civil society which, through different means, have undertaken a fundamental role during those transitions in building a new constitutional and democratic order. This paper challenges those theories by diachronically revisiting the literature about the Brazilian Constituent Assembly of 1987/1988, a paradigmatic example of a constitutional moment marked by such conflicting interpretations. By bringing the “forgotten people” to the forefront, it concludes that perhaps those theories’ pessimistic stress on the behavior of the ruling elites might not be enough to cope with the uncontrollable power of popular masses and the paradoxical nature of constitutional democracy.
Keywords: Regime Transitions, Behavior Analysis, Game Theory, Constituent Assembly, Constitutional History, Popular Movements, Brazil
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