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Revista de Sociologia e Política

On-line version ISSN 1678-9873


LOPEZ, Felix  and  ALMEIDA, Acir. Legislators, Fundseekers, and Paternalists: Political Representation at the Local Level. Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2017, vol.25, n.62, pp.157-181. ISSN 1678-9873.

The article analyzes political representation at the local level, focusing on the perceptions and everyday practices of councilmembers, particularly their choices between clientelistic and universalist representation strategies. It makes use of original data from semi-structured open interviews with a non-representative sample of 112 councilmembers from twelve municipalities of Minas Gerais, Brazil. By means of qualitative analysis, respondents were classified according to three types, according to their main representation strategy: “legislator”, who is more dedicated to the office's formal functions; “fundseeker”, who prioritizes the servicing of voters’ requests of a collective nature; and the paternalist, who prioritizes servicing requests of a private nature. Based on the theoretical literature on clientelism, it offers explanatory hypotheses about councilmembers’ representation strategies, which are tested statistically using a multinomial probit model. The results suggest that these strategies are qualitatively distinct and that the probability of observing the paternalist type is higher in small municipalities, increasing on the sharpening of political competition and decreasing on electoral volatility. There is also weak evidence that this probability decreases with the councilmember's years of schooling and her time in office.

Keywords : political representation; clientelism; particularism; councilmember; local politics.

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