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Instituições eleitorais e desempenho do presidencialismo no Brasil

Author(s): Santos Fabiano

Journal: Dados - Revista de Ciências Sociais
ISSN 0011-5258

Volume: 42;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 111;
Date: 1999;
Original page

Keywords: electoral system | legislative behavior | Brazilian presidentialism

The article proposes a model to explain why members of Brazil?s Lower House transfer substantial legislative power to the president of the republic. Following a brief discussion of the related literature, the main approach to the phenomenon - the personal vote theory - is critiqued. The article contends that this theory is not applicable to the Brazilian case since the transfer of votes within the open-list system makes it hard for lawmakers to know who their constituency really is. In a proportional open-list system like Brazil?s, the only candidates elected are those who garner votes equal to or greater than an electoral quotient obtained by dividing the number of valid votes cast by the seats to be filled, whatever the votes obtained by other candidates on the same list. In other words, it is often the case that a given deputy is only elected thanks to the contribution of votes won by other candidates. The result is that a Brazilian deputy has no information regarding the preferences of his or her true constituency, and the president consequently becomes the intermediary in the lawmaker?s relationship with this constituency. The stance these legislators take regarding presidential policies sends out a message to their constituency about their work in the Chamber of Deputies. This likewise accounts for the importance that these lawmakers attribute to the Executive?s agenda-setting power.
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