No Country for Leftists? Clientelist Continuity and the 2006 Vote in the Brazilian Northeast

Alfred P. Montero

Abstract


Building upon recent studies of the electoral effects of social policy
and President Lula da Silva’s coattails in the 2006 Brazilian elections, this
article explains the performance of leftist and conservative candidates in
elections for governor during that cycle in the Northeast region. The study
assesses three systemic factors: the conditional cash transfer program, Bolsa
Família
, economic growth, and Lula’s coattails on support for right-wing
incumbents and left-wing oppositions in the states of Bahia, Maranhão, and
Ceará. Based on the analysis of an original municipal-level dataset and a
survey of partisan elites, the findings underscore the importance of urbanbased
party building strategies across the three states and patterns of elite
alliances specific to each state. Alliances made in the capitals coupled with
divided conservative establishments, facilitated leftist victories in the examined
states. At the same time, variations in alliance patterns and leftist party
development across the three states reveal that conservative clientele networks
remain vibrant bases of right-wing support, especially in the interior,
and despite either social policy or Lula’s coattails.

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