Argentine, Brazilian, and Uruguayan presidents all supported neoliberal reforms. The reactions of their congresses, however, varied remarkably. The Argentine and Brazilian Congresses often ignored policy, approving reforms in exchange for pork and patronage. The Uruguayan Congress, on the other hand, often rejected reforms on policy grounds. This paper argues that the disproportionate rural tilt of the Argentine and Brazilian legislatures, which the Uruguayan legislature lacked, explains this discrepancy. Scholars have frequently referred to an overrepresented, underdeveloped periphery and underrepresented developed metropolis in Argentina and Brazil. I test this characterization, finding it generally true albeit with significant exceptions. I argue that overrepresented areas’ lower development led to a weaker civil society, strengthening politicians who focus on pork. I also find that Argentine legislators from the exceptional developed but overrepresented areas received particularly large amounts of pork, giving them an incentive to agree to presidents’ neoliberal agendas.
Duke, Brendan V., "Unequal Votes and the Unequal Branch: Congressional Behavior and Neoliberalism in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay" (2008). Honors Projects. Paper 12.
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