Bras. Political Sci. Rev.2014;8(2):127-9.

The Democratic Deficit of Brazilian Foreign Policy: a Faorian Interpretation

Mónica Salomón

DOI: 10.1590/1981-38212014000100016

Traditionally conceived as a singular, differentiated policy insulated from public debate, foreign policy in democratic political systems has gradually drawn closer to other public policies. Mechanisms for channelling the demands of different political actors and even for direct participation in developing and executing foreign policy, as well as mechanisms of control and accountability, have been established and have moved the democratisation of foreign policy forward to a greater or lesser degree, according to the context. However, an examination of the literature shows that in foreign policy the democratic deficit is invariably perceived as greater than in domestic policies. To what can this be attributed? To the inertia of tradition or to a real specificity of foreign policy, in which debate might not be advisable? In the words of Christopher , this specificity is related to the “long-debated issue of how far foreign policy can or should be accountable to citizens who are probably ignorant of the issues but who may ultimately be asked to die in its name” (2003, p.17). For many, the tension between two types of Weberian rationality (purposeful rationality and value-oriented rationality) is particularly important in foreign policy.

If the topic of the democratisation of foreign policy is of universal interest, it is particularly interesting in contemporary Brazil. As Ambassador (and former Minister of External Relations) Celso Amorim states in the book’s prologue, Brazilian foreign policy is increasingly present in public debate in Brazil and has therefore become another field of party conflict. At the same time, several institutional changes, within and without the Itamaraty (Ministry of External Relations), have assuaged the traditional insulation of the bureaucracy responsible for conducting Brazil’s foreign policy.


The Democratic Deficit of Brazilian Foreign Policy: a Faorian Interpretation