Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Brazilian Political Science Review (Online)]]> vol. 4 num. SE lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Fairness in the thought of John Rawls and Auguste Comte</b>]]> The article presents a comparison between some aspects of the socio-political theories of Auguste Comte and John Rawls. Its aim is to highlight certain elements that approximate and distance the two authors from one another in terms of political objectives and theoretical-methodological procedures, particularly on the basis of the Comtean perspective. The result is surprising: applying the mutatis mutandis methodological clause, i.e., considering the different socio-political contexts, there are more elements that approximate Rawls to Comte than elements that distance them from one another. After the introduction, an argument in favour of comparison as an analytic resource is presented; next, some aspects of Rawls's thought, then of Comte's, are set out. I conclude with a comparative assessment of the two. <![CDATA[<b>How safe are "safe" seats? A comparison of voluntary and compulsory voting systems</b>]]> Many observers have expressed concern that low voter turnout reflects an acute shortcoming in democratic politics. One proposed remedy, making voting compulsory, has garnered increasing attention among academics over recent years. Our article focuses on some of the technical properties of compulsory voting rules (CVR) while ignoring the philosophical debate over whether voting should be an obligation or a right. Using basic probability analysis, we compare a voluntary voting rule (VVR) to a compulsory one. We show that, under certain conditions, an electoral seat or district can become safer - or less competitive - with the imposition of a CVR. We also discuss some political implications of our analysis. For example, when generalized to, say, the national political system, this result implies fewer competitive seats in a CVR compared to a VVR, everything else equal. We contend that, because fewer seats will be "in play" in a CVR, CVRs should exhibit lower turnover of seats. Also, political suppliers can be expected to more narrowly focus their attention - and resources - on this smaller set of competitive seats than we would expect under a VVR. <![CDATA[<b>Social scientists and public administration in the Lula da Silva government</b>]]> We focus here on a new theme among studies on the Social Sciences in Brazil, namely, the presence of social scientists in high-level office in the federal government, whether as directors or advisers. In general, studies on the social sciences in Brazil are devoted to examining the academic profile of their founders, the contents prioritized in the disciplines, processes of institutionalization and methodologies adopted, among other aspects. However, there has never been an examination of the place of the social scientist in the division of labour of the state bureaucracy, in the market and close to those in power. By means of empirical research, we have ascertained that individuals with this academic background have a notable presence in the Lula da Silva government (2003-2006; 2007- ). Our hypothesis is that this presence cannot be explained chiefly by the specificity of the knowledge produced by this set of disciplines. Instead, one has to look at other variables, especially social scientists' link with the public service. <![CDATA[<b>Preference formation and institutional change</b>]]> This essay critically analyses how historical institutionalists and rational choice scholars study institutional stability and change. Special attention is paid to the thorny issue of how political actors' preferences are formed, with historical institutionalists considering preferences as endogenously formed, and rational choice analysts postulating that preferences are fixed and exogenous. An argument is made in favour of the perspective that considers preferences as being formed within the functioning of the political system over time, endogenously. The essay also proposes the incorporation of ideas and non-decisions as tools to elucidate processes of change. <![CDATA[<b>Defence and regional integration</b>: <b>the case of the Brazilian weapons industry</b>]]> This paper discusses the relationship between technological development and the weapons industry in Brazil, stressing the dependence of the latter on the former. It shows how changes in the arms trade have meant that the production of small arms for export is currently prioritized. The conclusion is that maintaining projects of this nature is only feasible by taking advantage of the remaining industrial base for dual-use production, i.e., to meet both civilian and military demand. Lastly, the possibility that the defence industry may work as a regional integration mechanism is raised. <![CDATA[<b>Politics and development</b>: <b>lessons from Latin America</b>]]> The present article discusses the conditions for the adoption of development strategies in Latin America in the aftermath of neoliberal reforms, focusing specifically on the role of political institutions as a component of productive regimes in selected countries. Development is treated as an endogenous process, shaped over time in terms of trajectories that are continuously redefined according to specific political conjunctures. Having moved from restricted democracies or authoritarian regimes and autarchic economies to mass democracies operating in the context of open economies after market-oriented reforms, persistent structural inequalities presently constitute the major axis framing the definition of development policies. Unlike in advanced countries where the State is treated as an epiphenomenon of the respective productive regimes, in the Latin American semi-periphery the State is the crucial actor for the reversal of vicious circles and negative complementarities stemming from the extreme structural and social inequalities within and between countries in the region. Following a brief discussion on development and economic growth in the definition of the post-neoliberal agenda, the article examines institutional indicators for the economic performance of contemporary government coalitions in selected countries, focusing on State policies favouring development, such as financing, technological innovation, training of the labour force and social policies. Next, we concentrate on analysing political institutions and the role of political elites capable of generating national projects for sustainable development strategies, showing some of the differences between these countries. We conclude with a brief discussion on the adequacy of contemporary political economy approaches to understand processes of capitalist transformation in the periphery, drawing attention to the need for a redefined regional perspective on development issues. <![CDATA[<b>At what point does a legislature become institutionalized? The Mercosur Parliament's path</b>]]> The Mercosur Parliament was created in 2005 to represent the peoples of the region. The constitutive documents affirm the necessity of reinforcing and deepening integration and democracy within Mercosur through an efficient and balanced institutional structure. In order to examine the potential role of the Parliament in strengthening the institutional framework of the bloc, this paper aims to analyse its initial years of activity. What is the institutionalization level reached by the assembly so far? The research is grounded on the idea that the more institutionalized the legislature is, the more it will influence the political system. The article presents a comparative approach that considers the earliest steps of the European Parliament. In terms of methodology, the qualitative analysis is based on documental research and on direct observation of the Mercosur Parliament's meetings. The main conclusions are related to the limited level of institutionalization of this new assembly, in spite of its innovative features regarding the Mercosur structure, and to its similarity with the initial period of the European Parliament. <![CDATA[<b>Analytical challenges for neoinstitutional theories of institutional change in comparative political science</b>]]> This article analyses the core critiques on institutional change theories within the neoinstitutional research agenda in comparative political science. It offers an explanatory typology using analytical challenges for the development of theories with new institutional approaches. This typology provides key critical issues that should be seriously considered by political scientists when analysing change. The framework suggests that the analytical challenges be posed in five interwoven dimensions: a) inclusion of institutional variables; b) agency and cognition; c) contextual sensitivity; d) increasing precision in the concept of institution (and institutional change); and, e) recursive interaction between agents and institutions in the process of institutional change. Based on these challenges, the article conducts a comparative analysis of the theories of change suggested by North and Aoki to understand how they deal with such issues. <![CDATA[<b>Political parties, foreign policy and ideology</b>: <b>Argentina and Chile in comparative perspective</b>]]> The aim of this article is to discuss the distribution of preferences of members of the Chilean and Argentinian Congress on foreign policy issues through the analysis of roll call votes. This goal is guided by the debate in Latin American literature concerning the decision-making process in foreign policy. The predominant argument focuses on the Executive as the principal decision-maker, disregarding the Legislative as relevant in this field. Thus, legislators would tend to abdicate from their preferences in determining foreign policy. Confronting this argument, we have many studies emphasising the importance of domestic actors in the foreign policy decision-making process. This article proposes to analyse two case studies in comparative perspective: the lower houses of the national parliaments of Argentina and Chile. The result is that the party ideology is a relevant explanatory factor of deputies' votes. Although the argument is more evident for the Chilean case, it is possible to argue that there is a similar pattern to the structuring of deputies' votes in the two countries, both on the domestic and on the international arena. The methodology used makes it possible to infer legislators' preferences by means of roll call votes and of the construction of maps of deputies' ideal points in foreign policy terms, as well as the correlation between Chilean and Argentinian parties' ideological classifications. Votes on foreign policy questions during the 2002-2006/2007 legislatures are considered. <![CDATA[<b>Strong presidents, robust democracies? Separation of powers and rule of law in Latin America</b>]]> The received wisdom on Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s was that countries where presidents enjoyed strong constitutional powers and where multiparty coalitions prevailed would be doomed to instability and institutional crises, while countries boasting weak presidents and strong parties were expected to consolidate democratic rule. After almost two decades, it is now widely acknowledged that this prediction failed. Recent re-conceptualizations of presidentialism have partly corrected the flaws in the established diagnosis but left unexplained the role of checks and balances and of the rule of law in containing presidential abuse and guaranteeing governability. The paper argues that the key to solving the paradox of strong presidents and robust democracies is that democratic stability in Latin American countries is a function of an extended system of checks and balances. These are ultimately generated by power fragmentation at the time of the constitutional choices over their institutional design and political competition sustaining their effective functioning.