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The Brazilian exception case: candidate-centred system and partisan legislative politics

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper investigates if the Brazilian strongly candidate-centered electoral system (PR open list) really breeds personalized party politics beyond the electoral arena. First, I invoke and resume recent findings from the literature on Brazilian roll-calls (1989-2007) that show fairly high party discipline and party cohesion. Secondly, I compare number and content of private member bills and of government bills to confirm Brazilian literature which defends that even in a presidential system the government can prevail in the initiative of law projects due to post-electoral institutions. Thirdly, I show that even the private member budget amendments (1989-2009) are proposed by Brazilian legislators and authorized by the Executive branch following partisan patterns and orientations, not individual cooptation. Fourth, I analyze the ministry appointments done by Brazilian presidents (1989-2007) to handle the electoral personalized multiparty system, showing that they strictly follow partisan legislative strength quite similarly to the European parliamentarian regimes. I.e., legislators negotiate with the Executive branch and act in a partisan fashion, rather than in a personalized party politics. Brazilian case has been shown that even if electoral systems can play a strong role in affecting legislators behavioral, they are not enough: the infra-institutional functioning of the legislative arena and the process similar to cabinet formation by the Executive branch can be engineered to suppress the electoral arena effects – or at least relativize the often assumed connection between electoral and legislative arena in what regards the behavioral consequences of candidate-centered electoral systems.