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Political context and clarity of governors accountability

Grant number: 19/09047-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2019
Effective date (End): February 29, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - State and Government
Principal Investigator:George Avelino Filho
Grantee:Pedro Henrique de Santana Schmalz
Home Institution: Escola de Economia de São Paulo (EESP). Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/15658-1 - Subnational political institutions: a comparative study of Brazilian States, AP.TEM

Abstract

Does the state of the economy carry weight on the voter's evaluation over the government's performance? This issue is at the heart of a continually growing field of research on electoral behavior: the economic voting hypothesis. It is estimated that over 300 articles and books have been written on the subject (Lewis - Beck 2013). Although the United States has been the most studied country so far, the economic vote in Brazil has also received some attention. Most of the work, however, has focused on analyzing voting behavior at the federal level (Carreirão 1999, 2007). Indeed, with a few exceptions (Barone 2013, Barberia, et al., 2018), the context of subnational governments, especially state, has been neglected. Consequently, we do not know whether Brazilian voters maintain their state government responsible for economic performance. Our goal in this research is to fill this gap. Let's empirically test the economic determinants influence the popularity of Brazilian state governments. This scientific initiation project aims to contribute to the construction of the database and studies on the "clarity of responsibility" of the governors of the Brazilian states. Previous studies on the results of fiscal policies and state elections have examined only the dispute for the governor's office, without reference to partisan control of the legislature. However, work on economic voting (Powell and Whitten 1993, Anderson 1995) ¹ show that the greater the "clarity of responsibility" in a government, the more likely it is to be blamed (rewarded or punished) for economic performance. These authors found that the voting losses caused by an economic recession are lower for members of a coalition than for unitary government parties. They suggest that this result is due to less "clarity of responsibility"; that is, the voter has difficulty in assigning the concrete responsibility of each of the parties in the government. Although these studies mainly consider coalitions in parliamentary systems, their insights can be extended to state governments. Because it is possible for the opposition parties to control the different branches of state government, it is expected that the clarity of responsibility will be greater under unified control. Therefore, we hope that voters are more likely to keep the candidates of a party responsible for fiscal policy when that party controls both powers. In order to analyze whether greater clarity of responsibility is associated with greater accountability in the ballot box as the economic vote theory argues that it should occur, the construction of a database for Brazilian subnational governments was initiated (Barberia, et al., 2017). Unlike other studies that were based on the electoral results for state assemblies and governors (parties and coalitions, number of seats by parties, etc.), the Brazilian State Governments Clarity Bank was built with data from the governors' office (instead of the electoral coalition) using a set of data produced by CEPESPDATA and thus represents an unprecedented bank. To date, the bank has data for the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo for the period 1998 to 2014. The objective of this project will be to increase the sample size of the bank by collecting and analyzing data for new states and for the period from 2014 to 2018 in the case of the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo.