Brazilian political institutions

Research Projects:


Politics and electoral behaviour

Description: Considering that electoral politics considerably influences the supply of public policies, this project investigates electoral behaviour in the metropolis. The results of previous investigations carried out by CEM show that electoral behaviour is highly predictable and related to socioeconomic factors. However, these results so far were based only in the city of São Paulo. This study is unique in Brazilian literature in terms of the methods and data used. Rather than dealing with information from surveys, we work with the lowest possible degree of aggregation for election results, namely, the ballot box. Previous findings refer only to São Paulo, the most developed State in the country, where the two major national political parties have deep roots. Thus, it is necessary to know if these findings hold up for other states. For this reason, the current stage of the project is expanding the spatial coverage of the research, including as many new states as possible. The project will continue to employ the methodology of Gary King to investigate the constituency of parties and candidates by a combination of electoral data and socioeconomic variables. Efforts in this direction have already been made regarding the vote distribution pattern in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, to compare the results for that city with those already obtained for the city of São Paulo. The data organisation for the study of intra-urban electoral behaviour has been already completed. Nevertheless, in addition to differences in the level of wealth, the political history of the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro and its role in national politics contrast with those of São Paulo. Another objective currently being pursued is to look for mechanisms that explain the identified patterns, which will be done by applying empirical tests of theoretically oriented hypotheses.

Professor in charge: Fernando Magalhães Papaterra Limongi (


The under-representation of women in politics and the effects of gender quota on women’s election for the Chamber of Deputies in Brazil

Description: Using as a backdrop the significant social and political advances that Brazilian women have been achieving in recent decades, this project raises questions about the apparent discrepancy in the low number of Brazilian women in the Chamber of Deputies, taking this scenario into account. We will analyse the effects of institutional changes - the quota laws No. 9100 (1995), 9504 (1997), and 12034 (2009) - on the representation rate for female parliamentarians in the sphere of political representation at the federal level. To this end, using data from the elections for the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, we will analyse the periods before, during and after the drafting of laws aimed to promote greater female presence in positions of authority. It is in our interest to also study the differences in the female representation rates among the states and among the Brazilian political parties, taking into account important variables surveyed in the literature, such as quota law, open-list proportional electoral system, and lack of position mandate.

Professor in charge: Lorena Guadalupe Barberia (


Political funding in Brazil: the impact of money on parties, elections, candidates, and representatives

Description: Objectives: 1) To understand the state-of-the-art literature on political funding in the field of political science; 2) to analyse and compare the composition of funding received by Brazilian political parties at the local, state, and national level. The idea is to focus on funding from public (e.g., party fund, free air time on radio and TV) and private sources (e.g., donations by individuals and corporations); 3) to analyse and compare the composition of funding received by the candidates for proportional seats in municipal, state or federal elections. To this end, the same sources mentioned in the previous objective will be investigated; 4) to analyse political funding both as an independent variable (investigating its impact on the electoral performance of candidates) and as an dependent variable (investigating the determinants of political funding, for example, elements of the candidate profile, such as ideology, seniority, if he/she is part of government supporters etc.); 5) to investigate the logic governing the behaviour of electoral donors, whether individuals or corporations; 6) to analyse the political activities of elected candidates for proportional seats, to verify if this action is influenced by the interests of corporations that fund their election campaigns, as well as the way through which this possible influence is exercised.

Professor in charge: Wagner Pralon Mancuso (


Political institutions in the First Republic

Description: The main purpose of this research project is to reflect on fraudulent practices for the federal elections in the Republican regime (1891-1930). The ambition is both descriptive and explanatory. Thus, the study of the accounts of the most common electoral corruption practices should be complemented by considering the causal dimension that would explain the presence of fraud. To this end, the project incorporates for this period a methodological discussion that dominates the current international political science, although it has not yet been explored for the Brazilian case, and focuses on the study of the disputes brought before the Chamber of Deputies after the end of the election campaign. The project is part of a broader line of research that focuses on the study of political institutions established in the republican era. It is a period that has been widely explored in historical and legal literature, but completely neglected by political scientists.

Professor in charge: Paolo Ricci (


The National Congress in the context of Coalitional Presidentialism

Description: The project aims to analyse the performance of the Brazilian National Congress by considering its constitutional functions of legislating and overseeing the executive branch and, at the same time, representing society in the political system. Based on specialised literature, the project will present - based on data on parliamentary initiatives in two terms: 1999-2002 and 2003-2006 - two competing hypotheses: one that considers that the coalitional presidentialism leads Congress to a performance of strictly reactive nature; and the other that considers that, depending on their area of operation (public policies), the Congress better articulates its representation function.

Professor in charge: José Álvaro Moisés (


Economic power in politics: the influence of electoral financers on parliamentary performance

Description: The object of this research project is the funding of election campaigns in Brazil. The project specifically focuses on donations made by companies to fund election campaigns of congressmen elected by Brazilian states for the last four terms (1995-1999; 1999-2003; 2003-2007; 2007-2011) and for the next term (2011-2015). The overall purpose of the project is to analyse the influence of these campaign contributions on the parliamentary behaviour of congressmen. The project aims to test four hypotheses that are present in the literature on campaign funding: (i) the success of candidates is related positively and directly to the amount of election funding received; (ii) corporations are the main source of campaign contributions; (iii) corporations that operate in economic sectors particularly exposed to government intervention, such as finance, construction and heavy industries, are responsible for most campaign contributions to elected congressmen; (iv) the parliamentary performance of elected congressmen is conditioned by the interests of the corporations that funded their election campaigns. This influence is observed in the presentation, analysis, and voting of projects involving direct government expenditures, and also of projects that do not involve such spending (for example, tax benefits, favourable regulation of business activities etc.). The practice of election campaign funding complements the practice of lobbying as political action modalities of the business world. The study of entrepreneurship policy action has been the central object of my researches over the past few years.

Professor in charge: Wagner Pralon Mancuso (


Federal Police and Department of Public Prosecutions on the fight against corruption and organised crime in Brazil

Description: This project deals with the issue of fighting against corruption and organised crime in Brazil. By analysing the operations of the Federal Police and the Department of Public Prosecutions, conducted between the years 2003 to 2010, we aim to achieve two main objectives: 1) to produce an unprecedented mapping of political corruption and organised crime in Brazil, using information provided by more than a thousand operations carried out in this period - such mapping could lead to a new empirical typology of state and government activities, as well as the private economic ones, more subject to political corruption and organised crime in the country; 2) to explain the reasons for three significant shifts within the jurisdiction and the institutional system responsible for actions in this area: a) from the civil sphere to the criminal sphere, b) from the state sphere to the federal sphere, and c) from disarticulation to a greater consolidation of relations within the web of accountability institutions (resulting in relative increase of the efficacy of their actions). The hypothesis that guides the examination of these shifts is of dual nature (institutional and organisational). On the one hand, such changes can be explained by the institutional design that is capable of providing more effective results in the criminal and federal spheres; on the other, greater effectiveness also depends on endogenous motivation and commitment of organisations in increasing the efficacy of their actions and the consolidation of their reciprocal relations within the web of accountability, to overcome isolation and cause a greater consequence to corruption and organised crime fighting activities.

Professor in charge: Rogério Bastos Arantes (