A Reversal of Political Fortune: The Transitional Dynamics of Conservative Rule in the Brazilian Northeast

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ABSTRACT

This study explains the erosion of conservative rule and the rise of leftist opposition at the subnational level in the Northeast of Brazil in recent electoral cycles. Compared with explanations based on economic modernization, social spending, and fiscal reform, the data best support the hypothesis that the organizational and spatial dimensions of leftist mobilization in these states have shifted to the detriment of conservative machines. Specifically, urban mobilization of leftist supporters has determined the electoral success of these oppositions. The study also explains where conservatives maintain a floor of support based on the continuation of clientele networks.

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