Political Elites Across Regimes

Democracy bears the promise of more representative governments. Yet in many countries, powerful elites and interest groups retain influence over politics, including after democratization. Can democratization disrupt elite capture of political institutions and lead to more representative governments? This project studies the persistence of local elites in Brazil after democratization, which took place in the 1980s. While the dictatorship allowed for local elections, candidates were restricted to run under the regime’s party or its officially sanctioned opposition until 1982, when a round of local elections inaugurated the democratization process. Using a novel dataset with candidate-level data and electoral returns for at least 60% of Brazilian municipalities for the 1972-1992 period, the project documents the patterns of political selection and evaluate the consequences of regime change on the composition of local elites.