brazilian politics has been usually analyzed as a case full of pathologies by scholars and political journalists alike. fragmentation, volatility, clientelism and inefficiency have become bywords for describing the performance of brazil's political institutions. as a counter to this view, this work argues that the country's democracy in the post-1988 period presents enough evidence in favor of classical hypotheses about electoral politics in the contemporary world, theories that invariably are based on premises of rationality in the behavior of voters and political parties. these theories include the median voter theorem, duverger's law on the mechanical and psychological effects of electoral systems, and the model of retrospective voting. the article also contends that the passing of time has contributed to make brazilian politics more rational and efficient in the mould of older democracies.