This article argues that the Brazilian President’s lawmaking powers, especially related to budget-making, crucially modify the incentives for more or less cooperative behavior among House members vis-à-vis their respective party representations in Congress, comparing the two democratic periods in Brazil: 1946-64 and post-1988. During the former period, given the President’s reduced agenda powers, Congress had greater freedom to define its approach to the President’s policy program without running the risk of retaliation in the form of lost patronage and budget resources. During the post-1988 period, since budget-making initiative is concentrated in the hands of the Executive Branch, the President’s bargaining power has expanded, requiring Congress to organize in more disciplined parties in order to more efficiently pressure the Administration to comply with agreements for mutual support. The study’s empirical section begins by identifying the pattern of coalitions that allowed for the developmentalist project in the 1950s as contrasted with the partisan coalition pattern that approved the constitutional reforms during the Cardoso Administration. The second section analyzes the parties’ policies towards the composition of crucial standing committees, demonstrating the impact of party loyalty on obtaining seats in the Committee on the Constitution and the Judiciary and the Committee on Finances and Taxation. The impact of party loyalty was significant in the former period and non-significant in the latter.
parties; committees; presidentialism coalition