Power

Bolsonaro pork-barreling influenced Brazil’s municipal elections. Here’s how

The federal government has overseen a spate of "rapporteur-designated grants," allowing lawmakers to allocate public money to projects in their constituencies — and the data suggests these funds swung local election results

bolsonaro secret budget elections Bolsonaro pork-barreling influenced Brazil's municipal elections. Here’s how
President Jair Bolsonaro announcing public works in Southern Brazil. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

A year ago, Brazilians went to the polls to elect new mayors and city council members in 5,568 municipalities across the country. In around 2,700 of them, incumbents ran for re-election — and two-thirds were successful. While that is not surprising — as control over public finances is often a major factor in elections. But 2020 appears to have been different, with the federal government tipping the scales to help its allies on to victories.

When municipal funds are not enough for electoral deliverables — such as paved roads, public works, welfare programs, public health equipment, and school buses — mayors...

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