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Samuels: Concurrent elections, discordant results

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Samuels. 2000. Concurrent elections, discordant results: Presidentialism, Federalism, and Governance in Brazil. Comparative Politics 33 (1): 1-20.

In Brief

"Winning presidential candidates who can mobilize broad national partisan support will reap significant rewards in executive-legislative relations. In contrast, an electorally weak president might face a more independent legislature, even if his own party is nominally well-represented, because members of congress did not rely on the president to win election." In other words:

  • X = Size of president's coattail (esp. relative to other coattails, such as the governors' coattails)
  • Y = Congress's support of president's policies

Since, in Brazil, the gubernatorial coattails are large, we get instability in Brazil's executive-legislative relations, "even between the president and members of his own party." In Brazil, "Presidential candidates simply lack the resources necessary to help their allies win elections in Brazil, such as control over nominations and alliances and the organizational backing of well-developed clientelistic networks."

Thus, members of Brazil's congress are more loyal to their state governors than to the president, and the president finds that he has little influence of legislators as a result.