Out with the Old, in with the New? Anti-system Sentiments and the Political Representation of Marginalized Groups


Amidst widespread anti-system sentiments, women organized the largest women-led protests in Brazilian history and numerous non-partisan initiatives emerged to train and support the candidacies of political outsiders, particularly women, Afro-Brazilians, and LBGTQI+ people. In the following elections in 2020, more than 40 non-partisan initiatives recruited newcomers and trained them to run for office in Brazil. Crises of representation are often associated with democratic erosion, but could anti-system sentiments also open a window of opportunity for the political representation of marginalized groups? And could non-partisan candidate support initiatives overcome political insiders’ resistance to change and provide an alternative avenue for addressing dissatisfaction with representation? To answer these questions and provide the first assessment of candidate support initiatives in Brazil, the project employs novel data from a survey of candidate support initiatives, data on candidate recruitment and electoral success, roughly 100 candidate interviews, three national survey experiments, and ten focus groups.