Power

Local legislatures in Brazil even more fragmented than Congress

Brazil's electoral system and large number of political parties lead to highly fragmented city councils. In one state capital, 15 seats are shared among 13 parties

legislatures fragmented
Election observers from the Organization of American States. Photo: TSE

Brazil’s legislative elections are anything but straightforward affairs. Unlike countries such as the U.S. or the United Kingdom which use first-past-the-post systems, Brazil’s legislatures are elected using proportional representation — a multi-level process which takes days to fully calculate.

(Editor-in-chief Gustavo Ribeiro explained each step in a 2018 piece you can read here.)

While this system allows for minorities to gain parliamentary representation without needing to have mastodonic party structures in their corner, it also breeds massive levels of fragmentation. In a country with 33 active political parties and counting, this often leads to abnormal electoral landscapes.

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