Party Discipline in the Brazilian Constitutional Congress
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXII:453-83

This paper focuses on 1988 roll-call votes in the 1987-88 Brazilian Constitutional Congress in an analysis of party discipline within the Congress. Because of the large number (1021) of roll-call votes during the Constitutional Congress and the availability of an excellent database, the Brazilian Constitutional Congress offers an opportunity for one of the most detailed studies ever conducted on party discipline in a third-world legislature. We begin by discussing how we calculated discipline scores, given some distinctive features of the Brazilian party system and the Constitutional Congress. We show that the biggest Brazilian parties of this period were comparatively undisciplined, and we also show that the leftist parties were a powerful exception to this general tendency. We demonstrate that legislators who switched parties during the Constitutional Congress were more likely than others to be undisciplined before switching, and that their discipline increased markedly after their move to new parties. Finally, we attempt to explain why discipline was low in all but the leftist parties.