Supporting parties are too big to be ignored

  • Supporting parties are too big to be ignored
    Author
    • Carlos Pereira

      Professor at FGV’s Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (FGV EBAPE). He is also currently a Visiting Fellow for the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development program at Brookings Institution, Washington-DC. Previously, he was a titular professor at FGV’s Sao Paulo School of Economics (FGV EESP) and a professor at the Michigan State University Political Science Department. He was a visiting professor at the Economics Department of the University of São Paulo (USP) and Colby College-Maine, USA. In addition, he was an associate researcher at the Social Sciences Department of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. He has extensive experience as a consultant and researcher for international agencies such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the World Bank, and the Department for International Development (DFID), UK. He has published in several national and international journals such as Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Governance, Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Latin American Studies, Electoral Studies, Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Journal of Legislative Studies, Revista Dados (Data Journal), Revista Brasileira de Economia Política (Brazilian Journal of Political Economy), Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais (Brazilian Journal of Social Sciences), among others. He also published a co-authored book titled "Regulatory Governance in Infrastructure Industries" by the World Bank Press and has written another book titled “Power, Beliefs, and Institutions: Understanding Modern Development with an Application to Brazil”, which will be submitted to Cambridge University Press.

    • Samuel Pessôa

      Holds an undergraduate and master’s degree in Physics from USP, and PhD in Economics from USP. He is currently a partner of Reliance in Sao Paulo, a researcher at FGV’s Brazilian Institute of Economics (FGV IBRE) and a columnist for the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. He has experience in Economics, with emphasis on Growth and Economic Development, working mainly in the following subject areas: economics, taxes, education in Brazil and expenses. Author of several academic articles on topics related to economic development, published in national and international journals.

    • Frederico Bertholini

      PhD in Administration (Institutions, Policies and Government) from FGV, with a period spent at New York University.  Research Manager at Codeplan-DF and associate researcher at FGV’s Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (FGV EBAPE). He has trained ProJovem Urbano managers and was ProJovem's Municipal Vocational Qualification Coordinator at the City Hall of Rio de Janeiro. Has experience in Public Policy, Evaluation and Research Methods.

Summary

In a context of party political fragmentation such as that found in Brazil, parties like PMDB abdicate playing a leading role and instead support the government in the legislature in order to receive benefits without running large risks. This is the theme of a research paper titled “Supporting parties are too big to be ignored,” which looks into what leads a party such as PMDB to support a government coalition.

As its methodology, the study presented the development of a theoretical framework able to explain political parties’ choice of trajectory in multiparty presidential systems, a survey of 123 specialists in Latin American politics, and the development of measures to classify parties and their degree of leadership in the executive branch. After the authors analyzed the data, they identified a strong positive correlation between party fragmentation and the occurrence of supporting parties in the center, with a strong presence in the legislature in Latin America. The study also concluded that it is cheaper and easier to manage a majority coalition if one has a supporting party as an ally. Although there are political parties similar to PMDB in the region, the authors did not find any others that share all its characteristics. The party has five main characteristics: a nationwide presence, a strong presence in Congress, an absence of ideology, a pivotal role in almost all coalitions in the executive branch, and a failure to launch its own presidential candidates. Accordingly, possibly (and this is a topic for future research), Brazil’s federative structure plays a strong role in discouraging PMDB from putting forward presidential candidates. The possibility of negotiating advantageous positions in local politics in exchange for not submitting presidential candidates is likely to play a major role in this decision by PMDB.