Determinants of patronage and policy-making positions in the Brazilian federal bureaucracy, 2007-2011

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Research on the relationship between the Executive and the Legislative in Brazil has generated a voluminous literature that sheds important light on our understanding of the policy-making process in Brazil and the relationship between the Executive and the political parties in Congress. However, little is known about how the bureaucracy is used as a tool for political patronage and its overall role in the policy-making. We aim to advance the understanding of this phenomena by studying which factors explain the distribution of political appointee positions in the Brazilian federal bureaucracy among political parties. By using an unique panel dataset and applying an One-Way Random Effects GLS regression model we found that the number of seats a party has in the lower Chamber, the party’s appointment of a cabinet minister, and being from the same party as the president’s (formateur party) play a fundamental role at explaining why some parties are more able to fill political appointees’ positions with their party members in the bureaucracy than others. These findings lend credence to the idea that appointments in the Brazilian bureaucracy can be better understood as “coalition goods” (by establishing an exchange baseline between the partisent’s party and the parties in the coalition) instead of “exchange goods” (as tools that help cover the ongoing costs of holding together the coalition).

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