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Political Parties, Campaign Finance and Women´s Political Representation in Brazil

Open Panel

Abstract

Political representation in Brazil is highly gender unbalanced. With less than 9 percent of women in the Federal Chamber, Brazil is one of the two countries in Latin America with the smallest numbers of women in national political legislatures. Different authors have claimed that political parties play a central role in promoting or constraining the access of women to political offices. Candidates’ selection is regarded as a key attribute of political parties. However, getting elected into parliament requires going beyond this initial phase in the process of recruiting political representatives. Since the Brazilian electoral system operates with open candidate´s list, which means that candidates run their campaign individually, to what extend political parties have any responsibility for the poor electoral performance of women? A key feature for winning elections, particularly in electoral systems that favor the individualization of campaigns, is financial resources. Studies have established a strong correlation between money spent in campaigns and electoral results. Although parties support their candidates financially, the private initiative in Brazil is the main source of campaign finance. Being this the case, how do the role played by parties compare to the role played by businesses in influencing electoral results? How is electoral finance from both sources distributed between men and women? What impact do they have in their chances of winning? Do female candidates have more opportunity of getting elected in some parties rather than in others? How far is this related to the amount of financial support they gain? These are the key questions raised in the paper. To answer these questions the campaign records of candidates reported to the Superior Electoral Tribunal in the national and state elections of 2006 and 2010 will be analyzed. Findings from interviews will also be employed.