Watchdogs in our midst: how presidents monitor coalitions in Brazil's multiparty presidential regime

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2017-11
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When delegating governing tasks to a coalition partner, the president would like to give a minister ample administrative powers to be able to effectively accomplish the political mission. Due to information asymmetries, the president runs the risk that this discretion might be used to pursue policy outcomes that may harm the president's preferences. This trade-off between delegation and control is key to understanding governance strategies the president chooses to minimize agency risks and coordinate public policies. With Brazil as a case study, this article demonstrates that presidents have strategically made frequent use of junior ministers as watchdogs of coalition partners, especially when coalition allies are ideologically distant from the president's preferences. Yet neither the portfolio salience nor the president's decision to share powers with coalition partners proportionally seems to interfere in such strategic decisions.


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