Why Brazilian congressmen prefer local office to federal posts

Contrary to the majority of democracies around the world, Brazilian congressmen traditionally coveted local mayoral offices

congressmen mayoral races
Congressmen João Campos ditched a House seat for the Recife City Hall. Photo: Campaign

In the world of politics, local elected offices are frequently seen as stepping stones for politicians with higher goals. It is a way to build popularity and climb the political ladder to a seat in Congress, a governor’s office, or — for the truly ambitious — to the presidential palace. However, while this premise is often repeated in Brazil, traditionally the opposite has been true, with federal-level politicians choosing to aim locally.

In 2020, more than 10 percent of the House of Representatives ran in the municipal elections. Of the 70 that did so, a total of 11 were...

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