Working papers

1. "Casting ballots when knowing results" with Victor Araújo [Link]

While scholars have long identified information as a key factor shaping voter behaviour, establishing how it impacts behaviour in real-world settings has remained challenging. In the 2018 Brazilian presidential elections, unpredictable technical glitches caused by the implementation of biometrics as a form of ID led some voters to cast ballots after official tallies were already being announced. In addition to providing a source of exogenous variation through a clean threshold of information exposure, the polarized context of the elections also makes them a ``least likely" case for behavioural changes. Even in this setting, we find strong support for a bandwagon effect: information exposure motivates voters to abandon losing candidates and switch support for the frontrunner---a finding that stands in the second round of the election, when only two candidates compete against each other. These findings provide theoretical nuance about and stronger empirical support for the mechanisms underpinning voting behaviour.

 

2. "Informal Institutions and Gendered Candidate Selection in Brazilian Parties" with Kristin N. Wylie

Six electoral cycles since the implementation of Brazil’s gender quota, just 15% of the 513 members of the Chamber of Deputies are women. We ask how parties’ use of informal institutions mediates the effectiveness of the gender quota. Drawing on data from more than 4,000 state-level party organizations, we show that parties employ informal practices that intentionally and non-intentionally interact with the gender quota to affect women’s political representation: the intentional nomination of phantom candidates (“laranjas”) allows parties to comply with the letter of the law, without effectively supporting women’s candidacies—to the detriment of women’s election; meanwhile, the extended use of provisional commissions to minimize oversight on candidate selection poses an obstacle to the quota and women’s candidacies and election more generally. Quota resistance characterizes an instance of both the likely inadvertent effects of informal institutions employed for non-gendered motivations and party leaders acting to preserve their own power. 

3. "Gendering Coalitional Presidentialism" with Pedro dos Santos and Kristin N. Wylie 

 

Coalitional presidentialism (CP) is a power-sharing strategy deployed in multiparty presidentialist democracies that entails the distribution of cabinet positions to coalition partners to facilitate governability. Scholarship on CP has been particularly insightful for the Brazilian case, which has a highly fragmented party system, making “minority presidents” with multiparty cabinets the norm. This model of governance is becoming increasingly common worldwide—gaining growing scholarly interest. The consequences of CP for women’s cabinet representation, however, have received scant attention. In this article, we employ a Feminist Institutionalist framework to provide a gendered analysis of the Brazilian experience with CP. Advancing an original dataset on the gender, political affiliation, and timing of appointment of all ministerial appointments (N=597) during the mandates of eight presidents (1985-2019), we show that CP generally restricts women’s access to cabinet seats, with coalition parties rarely advancing women to fill portfolios allocated to them by the president. 

 

4. "The Presidenta Effect: Perceptions of Women in Politics in Post-impeachment Brazil" with Anna Petherick

Not long ago, scholars frequently pointed to the elections of female presidents in Latin America as a sign that traditional biases against women in politics were eroding in the region. In the period since, various events have suggested that the demonstration effects of these presidents may have not been entirely positive. If true, Latin America’s first presidentasmay have had the opposite effect on symbolic representation to the one anticipated. Yet this remains unknown. Rousseff’s impeachment in August 2016 provides an ideal scenario with which to explore this. Employing an original nationally-representative survey experiment (N=1,498), we find that recollecting Rousseff’s presidency and impeachment seems to confirm the tendency of Brazilian male voters to implicitly view women as unequipped to occupy political office. Rousseff’s perceived failures in office, however, reduces female voters’ positive implicit evaluations of female politicians, and alters their private—though not their public—explicit attitudes towards female politicians.

© 2016 MALU A. C. GATTO