National Renewal Alliance

The National Renewal Alliance (Portuguese: Aliança Renovadora Nacional, ARENA) was a conservative political party that existed in Brazil between 1966 and 1979. It was the official party of the military that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

National Renewal Alliance
Aliança Renovadora Nacional
PresidentErnesto Geisel (last)
FoundedApril 4, 1966 (1966-04-04)
DissolvedDecember 20, 1979 (1979-12-20)
Merger ofNational Democratic Union, Social Democratic Party (partly)
Party of Popular Representation
Succeeded byDemocratic Social Party
HeadquartersBrasília, D.F., Brazil
IdeologyNational conservatism
Brazilian nationalism
Social conservatism
National security
Political positionRight-wing to far-right[1]
Colours  Dark blue
Party flag
Bandera Arena.png

Up to 1965, there were three main parties in Brazil: the left-wing populist Brazilian Labour Party (PTB), the centrist Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the conservative National Democratic Union (UDN). In 1964, the government of President João Goulart was overthrown by a military coup d'etat, but in contrast to other Latin American dictatorships, the Brazilian military-controlled government did not abolish Congress. Instead, in 1965, the government banned all existing political parties and created a two-party system. ARENA, the pro-government party, was formed by politicians from the bulk of the UDN, the right wing of the PSD, and the bulk of the integralist Party of Popular Representation. The main body of the PSD joined most of the PTB in forming the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), the opposition.

ARENA had no real ideology other than support for the military, who used it mostly to rubber-stamp its agenda. In the elections of 1966 and 1970, ARENA won a vast majority of seats. Most agree that, at first, the MDB did not have any chance to pass or block any legislation. It also rubber-stamped the military leadership's choice of president. Under the military's constitution, the president was nominally elected by an absolute majority of both chambers meeting in joint session. In practice, ARENA's majority was so massive that its candidate could not possibly be defeated. During most of the early part of the military regime, Brazil was, for all intents and purposes, a one-party state. Indeed, during the first two elections under military rule, the MDB didn't even put up a presidential candidate.

However, ARENA was not completely subservient. For example, in the late 1968 President Artur da Costa e Silva demanded that Congress prosecute a deputy for suggesting that women should refuse to dance with military cadets. Congress turned the demand down, prompting Costa e Silva to issue the heavy-handed Fifth Institutional Act, which allowed him to close Congress and rule by decree. Almost as soon as he signed AI-5 into law, Costa e Silva used its provisions to close Congress for almost two years, thus placing Brazil under a tight dictatorship.

In the legislative elections of 1974, MDB took many more seats than expected. It actually won a majority in the Senate, and came up just short of a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The government reacted by passing legislation restricting the power of the opposition, and even succeeded in annulling the mandates of some Congressmen of the MDB.

In 1979, in a manoeuvre to divide the opposition, the government ended the bipartisan party system, and ARENA was dissolved when the new political parties law became effective on 20 December 1979.[2] In January 1980, most of ARENA's former members founded the Democratic Social Party (PDS) as a continuation of ARENA.

Electoral historyEdit

Presidential electionsEdit

Election Party candidate Running mate Electoral votes % Result
1966 Artur da Costa e Silva Pedro Aleixo 294 100% Elected  Y
1969 Emílio Garrastazu Médici Augusto Rademaker 293 100% Elected  Y
1974 Ernesto Geisel Adalberto Pereira dos Santos 400 84% Elected  Y
1978 João Figueiredo Aureliano Chaves 355 61.10% Elected  Y

Chamber of Deputies electionsEdit

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Outcome
1966 Artur da Costa e Silva 8,731,638 64.0%
277 / 409
  277   1st Supermajority government
1970 Emílio Garrastazu Médici 10,867,814 69.5%
223 / 310
  54   1st Supermajority government
1974 Ernesto Geisel 11,866,599 52.2 %
203 / 364
  20   1st Majority government
1978 15,053,387 50.4%
231 / 422
  28   1st Majority government

Senate electionsEdit

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Outcome
1966 Artur da Costa e Silva 7,719,382 56.6%
19 / 23
  19   1st Supermajority
1970 Emílio Garrastazu Médici 20,524,470 60.4%
40 / 46
  21   1st Supermajority
1974 Ernesto Geisel 10,067,796 41.0%
6 / 22
  34   2nd Minority
1978 13,116,194 42.9%
15 / 23
  5   1st Majority


  1. ^ "Golpe de 1964: o que foi, contexto histórico, acontecimentos". Brasil Escola.
  2. ^ "PRESIDÊNCIA DA REPÚBLICA". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2020-07-28.