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Knowing Left from Right: Ideological Thinking in the 2002 and 2006 Brazilian Presidential Elections
Unformatted Document Text:  that rightist Brazilian ideology favors statism, authoritarianism, and social control. My results suggest a different story. Far from having no impact, some traditional economic issues— including privatization and land reform—are strongly associated with leftism in the way classically supposed. However, other economic issues, namely social spending and free trade, have the opposite association from the traditional one. These relationships likely result from the way Brazilian elites have framed and grouped issues. The PT has championed free trade, while rightist parties have promoted social programs for clientelistic purposes. Also, pensions, which make up a large percentage of social spending, largely benefit the middle classes. In fact, many leftists have decried Lula’s largest social spending program, Bolsa Família, as clientelistic . In light of these results, how should we interpret Latin America’s “left turn”? First, given that perhaps only one-third to one-half of the population demonstrates real ideological thinking, we might question whether this turn signaled any leftist electoral mandate. Still, the small zero- order correlation (.12) between leftism and ideological thinking suggests that among the ideologically aware there may exist something like a mandate for leftist policies. Second, to the extent that the “left turn” did involve a real mandate, these results indicate that the policy platform endorsed is not the classically leftist one often supposed. 22

Authors: Smith, Amy.
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that rightist Brazilian ideology favors statism, authoritarianism, and social control. My results
suggest a different story. Far from having no impact, some traditional economic issues—
including privatization and land reform—are strongly associated with leftism in the way
classically supposed. However, other economic issues, namely social spending and free trade,
have the opposite association from the traditional one. These relationships likely result from the
way Brazilian elites have framed and grouped issues. The PT has championed free trade, while
rightist parties have promoted social programs for clientelistic purposes. Also, pensions, which
make up a large percentage of social spending, largely benefit the middle classes. In fact, many
leftists have decried Lula’s largest social spending program, Bolsa Família, as clientelistic .
In light of these results, how should we interpret Latin America’s “left turn”? First, given
that perhaps only one-third to one-half of the population demonstrates real ideological thinking,
we might question whether this turn signaled any leftist electoral mandate. Still, the small zero-
order correlation (.12) between leftism and ideological thinking suggests that among the
ideologically aware there may exist something like a mandate for leftist policies. Second, to the
extent that the “left turn” did involve a real mandate, these results indicate that the policy
platform endorsed is not the classically leftist one often supposed.
22


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