Brazil’s answer to political fragmentation could lead to gridlocks

As of this year, Brazilian political parties will be able to form 'federations' essentially joining themselves at the hip with their counterparts. But implementing such a system is easier said than done

fragmentation brazil
The Brazilian House. Photo: Zeca Ribeiro/CD/CC-BY 4.0

In October 2022, Brazil will observe the debut of a new feature of party political life, the so-called “party federations.” Created last year as part of Brazil’s latest political reform, these federations consist of a new form of congressional alliance that binds parties together for an entire four-year legislature. It was conceived as a way to tackle two issues: giving small parties a chance to circumvent sanctions for not meeting performance thresholds, and reducing fragmentation in Congress.

Indeed, Brazil’s legislative branch is fragmented beyond parallel. A total of 24 parties are represented in the country’s lower house, and there...

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