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Brazilian Politics on Trial: Corruption and Reform Under Democracy

Luciano Da Ros and Matthew M. Taylor
Brazilian Politics on Trial: Corruption and Reform Under Democracy
ISBN: 978-1-62637-997-8
ISBN: 978-1-955055-19-2
$95.00 $35.00
2022/281 pages/LC: 2021036854
"An essential read for scholars and policy-makers who seek to understand the politics of corruption and the world of anti-corruption measures." —Emily Acevedo, International Affairs

"[A] meticulous, imaginative, and pioneering study.... While Brazilian Politics on Trial adds greatly to the study of Latin American politics by providing a dynamic portrayal of the challenges facing Brazilian politics since its return to democracy, it also marks a major contribution to the study of corruption.” —Stephen D. Morris, The Latin Americanist

"Essential reading for those who seek to understand the politics of corruption and anti-corruption, as well as Brazil's corresponding successes and failures in this realm." —Gregory Michener, Journal of Latin American Studies

"A nuanced, insightful, distinctive, and plausible reading of events. It represents an invaluable contribution to the literature.... Da Ros and Taylor offer a sober, and therefore welcome, assessment of Brazil's recent past and the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead." —George Mészáros, Latin American Politics and Society

"An engagingly written and thoroughly researched investigation of the ongoing fight against grand corruption in Brazil, situated in comparative perspective to be of broad interest." —Matthew S. Winters, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Brazil's democracy has repeatedly suffered major corruption scandals, despite numerous reforms designed to overcome entrenched patterns of illicit behavior. Why? What has caused corruption scandals to recur across some four decades of presidential administrations? And what are the implications of Brazil's experience for efforts to enhance accountability elsewhere?

Addressing these questions, Matthew Taylor and Luciano Da Ros provide a framework for evaluating the bottlenecks to effective accountability in Brazil and analyze the successes and failures of anticorruption efforts from the early days of the democratic transition through the demise of the massive Lava Jato investigations.


Luciano Da Ros is assistant professor of political science at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. Matthew M. Taylor is associate professor of international relations at American University.


  • Scandal and Corruption in Brazil.
  • The Prevailing Elite Cartel Syndrome.
  • The Incremental Approach to Accountability, 1985-2014.
  • Lava Jato and the Big Push, 2014-2016.
  • The Unmaking of Lava Jato and Its Ramifications, 2016-2021.
  • Judicial Big Pushes in Large Democracies.
  • Learning from the Brazilian Experience.
  • Appendix: Brazil's Major Federal Corruption Scandals (1985-2021).