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Brazilian Executive Branch: achieving governability in a personalized and fragmented multiparty system

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper investigates the organization and functioning of the Brazilian Executive Branch (1989-2009) within its institutional context of multiparty, highly personalized voting system (PR open list) and strong federalism. To wit, Brazilian case is a fairly interesting example of how institutionally strong Executive Branches have been engineered to deal with scenarios different from the classical USA presidentialism - like making a Consociative Democracy achieve proper governability even in that Brazilian combination of institutions blamed by the literature as meant to not work. First, I rely upon recent findings on the Executive-Legislative connection in Brazil that present roll-calls with high party discipline and cohesion, and very high legislative endorsement of the Executive agenda – due to agenda powers and legislative powers attained to the president. Secondly, I deliver deeper analysis of those 20 years roll-calls showing that almost all of them deal with nationwide matters, not regionalized. And finally and foremost, I show that those rectifications of the often-expected outcomes from the strong consociativism are achieved through a process quite similar to the classical cabinet formation of parliamentarian regimes. In a comparative perspective, ministry appointments in Brazil have been following the most elevated patterns of cabinet formation of parliamentary democracies - and actually handle the fragmented presidential multiparty system quite well. The Brazilian case blurs a little bit the boundaries between presidential and parliamentarian systems. It helps us to start thinking that the paradigmatic American two-party majoritarian presidentialism may conceivably be the exception of the presidentialisms throughout the World – hence remarking that we may have to pay more attention to specifications and infra-institutions of Executive Branches abroad.