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Figueiredo and Limongi: Presidential power, legislative organization, and party behavior in Brazil

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Figueiredo and Limongi. 2000. Presidential power, legislative organization, and party behavior in Brazil. Comparative Politics.

In Brief

The Puzzle

Linz and others fear that presidentialism is prone to deadlock (non-cooperation btw president and legislature), especially multiparty presidential systems. Brazil has been seen as the extreme example of multiparty presidentialism, so we might expect little party discipline and systematic resistance to presidential (legislative) proposals. But this is not the case.

The Argument

Brazilian presidents do exert considerable control over legislation, and they do receive consistent support from their coalition--enough support (85.6%, p151) to make presidential defeat (in a roll call) rare.

Institutional variables (the president's legislative powers and the centralized organization of the legislature) give the presidents influence. The president can control the legislative agenda, and he has considerable control over legislators' access to pork. Moreover, legislative decisionmaking is highly cenralized as a result of rules that organize legislative work around the parties--leading to enforced party discipline.

Main Contribution: Thus, although the Brazilian electoral system creates incentives to cultivate a personal vote in the electorate, this does not mean that parties are not disciplined in the congress. Electoral incentives for particularistic politics are neutralized in the legislature by the internal distribution of legislative rights.