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Brazil General Elections: an overview of the 2019 National Congress

November 16, 2018

The 2018 elections brought the biggest change to the Brazilian National Congress in 20 years, with many traditional parties and politicians losing ground to a new cohort of congressmen. The results of the 2018 elections show a clear growth of right-wing actors in Congress, generally in favor of economic liberalism, rather than nationalist and anti-IP agendas. Indeed, the Liberal Social Party (PSL), that of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, had the biggest growth in seats at the National Congress.

Bolsonaro had already gathered the informal support from the powerful evangelical, rural and security caucuses. His base has the potential of reaching 300 votes according to one estimate. A more conservative Congress tends to back the policies of a right-wing president in comparison with a leftist head of government.

NATIONAL CONGRESS

The National Congress in Brazil is composed by two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. It suffered the most profound change in its composition since 1990. As a result, there will be a significant party fragmentation, with 21 parties represented in the Senate and 30 parties represented in the House of Representatives.

 

VARIATION IN THE NUMBER OF SEATS IN THE NATIONAL CONGRESS BY PARTY

A conservative wave caused the growth of right-wing parties and politicians. The Workers’ Party (PT), in government for close to fifteen years, lost most of its seats in the National Congress, while the once very small PSL became a political juggernaut. Left-wing parties suffered a general decrease in popular support, whereas Bolsonaro’s PSL helped the conservative and economic liberal caucuses to stay on top over the next four years.

SUPPORT TO BOLSONARO

Based on the support of the evangelical, rural and security caucuses gained by Bolsonaro during the runoff of the presidential election, it is possible to predict his support in Congress, where his base could potentially gather up to 300 congressmen. In the House of Representatives, this figure already represents full majority, which will increase the likelihood of the president-elect passing legislation more easily.

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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The House of Representatives had a change of 52.4% in its composition, the biggest change in 20 years. The party fragmentation remains high, with 30 parties represented in the House. The number of right-wing parties increased, while the number of center parties reduced. The left-wing parties’ amount remained the same.

Of the total 513 representatives, 244 (48%) were reelected, while 269 (52%) will serve their first term in the house. 372 representatives have already held public positions. About 55% of the new House of Representative is composed by parties that have an economic liberal agenda, while 28% is composed by parties that have a nationalist and anti-IP agenda.

NUMBER OF SEATS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BY PARTY

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Two of the most traditional parties in Brazil, the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) were the parties that lost most seats in the house. The PSL elected 51 new representatives and was the party with the biggest growth, while the PT lost 13 seats.

VARIATION IN THE NUMBER OF SEATS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BY PARTY



SENATE

The Senate had a change of 58% in its composition, the biggest in its history. In relation to the seats open for dispute (2/3 of 81), the change of composition was 85%. The party fragmentation reached its highest level since the end of the Military Regime, with 21 parties represented.

Of the 54 seats open for dispute, only 8 (15%) were filled by reelected senators, the remaining 46 seats (85%) were filled by new senators. Out of the 46 new senators, 9 have never held public office. About 47% of the new Senate is composed by parties that have an economic liberal agenda, while 22% is composed by parties that have a nationalist and anti-IP agenda.

NUMBER OF SEATS IN THE SENATE BY PARTY

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As in the House of Representatives, MDB and PSDB were the parties that lost most seats in the Senate. The PT lost 3 seats, while the PSL elected 4 senators, an expressive growth considering that the party had no seats in the Senate’s past composition.

VARIATION IN THE NUMBER OF SEATS IN THE SENATE BY PARTY