The Gubernatorial Coattails Effect: Federalism and Congressional Elections in Brazil

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Abstract

Competition for executive-level offices can influence competition for legislative office, and federal institutions can provide an “opportunity structure” that shapes partisan competition. In Brazil, unlike in systems where the presidential election might drive congressional elections, electoral incentives are state-centered. Candidates for Congress focus on the gubernatorial race, not the presidential race. Specifically, the effective number of candidates competing in the gubernatorial race in each state (electoral district) determines the effective number of lists competing in congressional elections in each state in Brazil. In this article, I use OLS regression analysis of electoral data from Brazil's democratic elections to test this proposition. Regression analysis confirms that the effective number of candidates for governor, and not the effective number of candidates for president, drives the effective number of lists competing in the legislative election.

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