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ABSTRACT

This article examines key ideological, economic, and institutional preferences of the Brazilian political elite in the first 25 years of the country's present democratic regime. Introducing the unified dataset of the Brazilian Legislative Surveys, it examines several crucial dimensions of politicians' attitudes, including elite placement on a traditional left-right scale, preferences concerning the fundamental economic model, direct comparisons of the recent Cardoso and Lula governments, and orientations toward Brazil's global and regional projection. On many of the central issues, attitudes have remained stable, but on the dimensions that have seen notable change, nearly all the change has been in the direction of decreasing polarization. In contrast to the experience of some neighboring countries, the Brazilian case demonstrates that the sustained practice of democracy can lead to attitudinal convergence and macro-political stability, even when the initial political and socioeconomic conditions appear daunting.