Brazil: The Costs of Multiparty Presidentialism

Issue Date April 2018
Volume 29
Issue 2
Page Numbers 113-127
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Political scientists have long debated the merits of multiparty presidentialism. The dominant view that has emerged over the past decade is that presidents can effectively build coalitions by sharing control over the executive’s vast resources with coalition partners in the legislature. This paper provides a more pessimistic account, focused on the problems of accountability created by powerful presidents working to build coalitions in fragmented legislatures. It argues that multiparty presidential systems foster legislatures dependent on patronage and clientelism, which are in fact too weak to check the executive. As a result, these systems are fertile ground for rent-seeking and corruption.