Cardoso's Presidency, 1995- 2003
Fernando Henrique Cardoso (born June 18, 1931) was the
president of the Federative Republic of Brazil from January 1, 1995
to January 1, 2003.
Cardoso was inaugurated as president on January 1, 1995, under the
most auspicious circumstances. He had won an outright victory in
the first round of the election and had potentially strong support
blocs in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. He had strong support
from a majority of the newly elected governors, including those
from the important states of Minas
Paulo, and Rio
de Janeiro, which had elected governors from the president's
Further, the December 1994 inflation rate was less than 1 percent,
unemployment was low, and popular expectations ratings were extremely
After his inauguration, Cardoso called the lame-duck Congress into
session in an attempt to pass important legislation not acted on
in 1994. President Cardoso abolished the CEI, which had not yet
finished investigating corruption in the Franco
administration, and transferred its mission to the new Internal
Control Secretariat (Secretaria de Contrôle Interno--SCI).
The Cardoso government pushed privatization and organized the sale
of the Rio Dôce Valley Company (Companhia Vale do Rio Dôce--CVRD),
one of the world's largest mining firms; the telecommunications
system; and the electricity sector.
In 1995 Congress enacted major constitutional reforms, including
economic deregulation, eliminating state monopolies, and changes
in election and party legislation. By July 1995, the lower house
had passed (and transmitted to the Senate) all five amendments dealing
with the economic area. The amendments reduced to varying degrees
state-held monopolies on coastal shipping, natural gas distribution,
telecommunications, and petroleum, and eliminated the distinction
between domestic and foreign firms in Article 171.
Perhaps the most important task of the Cardoso government in 1995
was to promote the reform of key sections of the 1988 constitution
in order to reduce the role of the state in the economy, reform
the federal bureaucracy, reorganize the social security system,
rework federalist relationships, overhaul the complicated tax system,
and effect electoral and party reforms to strengthen the political
representation of political parties. In February 1995, the new Cardoso
government moved quickly to initiate constitutional reform by a
three-fifths majority of each house.
In the area of political reforms, Congress sought to improve Brazil's
very weak party system. Congress proposed establishing a mixed system,
prohibiting coalitions in proportional elections, establishing a
minimum representation threshold (5 percent), permitting immediate
reelection to executive office, imposing more rigid party fidelity
norms, restricting party access to television and radio time, and
establishing stricter regulations for campaign finance.
Data as of April 1997