The Ideological “Coherence” of the Brazilian Party System, 1990-2009

Kevin Lucas, David Samuels


This paper contributes to the debate about the ideological coherence of the Brazilian party system. Using discriminant function analysis of 20 years of surveys of Brazilian legislators, we find that the party system now exhibits relatively little coherence. Though the Worker’s Party (PT) is clearly distinct, no clear ideological differences exist between the placement of the system’s three other main parties. Moreover, the spatial distance between the PT and the other parties is diminishing over time. Given the importance of a coherent ideological map to any consolidated party system, we question the notion that the Brazilian party system has gradually consolidated. Indeed, our results suggest the opposite: in recent years the Brazilian party system has become relatively more “inchoate.”

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