Seriously Concerned? Brazilian Deputies on Inequality and Tax Reform

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Seriously Concerned? Brazilian Deputies on Inequality and Tax Reform

Type: Bachelor thesis
Title: Seriously Concerned? Brazilian Deputies on Inequality and Tax Reform
Author: Burattini, Beatriz
Issue Date: 2017-09-01
Abstract: The reputation of politicians and their parties has not been spared by Brazil’s ever deepening political crisis, as a variety of corruption scandals have delegitimised a large part of the country’s political establishment (Watts; Addley). Considering the dimensions of these scandals (Associated Press in Brasilia), citizens may wonder whether the men and women they elected feel obliged to serve their society. Putting scandals aside, the prevalence of income and wealth inequality in the country is another problem that raises this question. One of the country’s structural issues, inequality harms society by increasing criminality and political instability (dos Santos et al. 111; Price of Inequality 83-92). Although Brazilian politicians could tackle this issue by introducing a system of progressive taxation where wealthier citizens are taxed more than less wealthy ones, they have allowed that a system of regressive taxation remains in place (Price of Inequality 31; Andrade 837-840; Junqueira 93). Income taxes could be used to counter this problem, but since the Brazilian government relies less on them, the tax structure remains regressive (Price of Inequality 30-74; Economics of the Public Sector 453; Andrade 837-840). While there have been attempts to reform the tax system in the past, no tax reform has been passed in the favour of wealth redistribution (Junqueira 93; Andrade 849). Moreover, in light of the myriad of scandals in Brazil’s political arena at the moment, one may wonder whether the country’s politicians feel any sense of duty towards its citizens. In an attempt to come closer to examining how self-interested Brazil’s political class actually is, this paper will use the tax reform attempt of 2008 to determine whether income redistribution – a form of ‘greater good’ – is regarded as a priority for Brazilian politicians. After analysing eleven political debates by Brazilian deputies from the 53rd legislature, this research has found that inequality still cannot be seen as a priority for most of the country’s political class. This can be explained by considering Brazilian political culture and how it has been shaped by history.
Supervisor: Amann, Edmund
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: International Studies (Bachelor)
Specialisation: Latin America
ECTS Credits: 15

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