In Brazil, politicians and bureaucrats often use their control rights over state-owned companies and other public agencies to extract rents for both political and personal reasons. Similarly, a group of connected businessmen have learned to wage their political contacts as the main driver of their enterprises. Indeed, Brazilian democratic governance has been performed through a “coalitional presidentialism” in which the head of government navigates a multiparty environment by sharing power and rents with key legislators and power brokers. Over the last fifteen years, this system has become more “expensive” because of further party fragmentation and the lack of administrative and political reforms. In March 2014, a great deal of these arrangements started to be uncovered by the still ongoing anticorruption investigation dubbed Operação Lava Jato (Carwash Operation), as Petrobras was found as the centerpiece of a multi-billion kickback and bribery scheme developed to fund political parties and electoral campaigns. Since then, the unfolding inquiry has undermined Brazil’s political and business establishment, producing shockwaves across the nation.
This event aims to bring together leading practitioners, scholars and high-profile public officers to discuss the effects of Carwash Operation in Brazil’s current and future institutional framework. What has changed so far in terms of political, policy and business practices? For how long? Is there room for further institutional improvements? Is the system reformable? How is the Operation helping to support a market-based development agenda grounded on the rule of law? How are national and foreign investors reacting to these changes and challenges? What comes next for Brazil?
The event is co-sponsored and organized by Columbia University and the New School.