Presidential Elections: Every Vote Counts!

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Facultative Voting and the Erosion of the Median Voter Theorem

by Álvaro Rossi, BA Candidate in Economic and Political Science, Columbia University.  

The year of 2016 has been a challenging one for political economists. From the unexpected results of the Brexit and Peace referendums in Great Britain and Colombia respectively, to the unprecedented election of real estate mogul Donald Trump as President of the United States, the past 11 months have presented some of the most unforeseen political events in the last years. Political economists, charged with developing theories behind voting behavior, were shaken with the collective political choices of 2017. Continue reading “Facultative Voting and the Erosion of the Median Voter Theorem”

Brazilians Have A Civic Role In Keeping the “Bolsa Familia” Program

By Marina Lafer, MPA Candidate at SIPA, Columbia University

In 2004, belonging to a social and economic environment in which people were constantly raising doubts over the efficacy of Lula’s policies as Brazil’s President, I remember myself having a bad – unsupported – impression over Bolsa Familia, a program that aims to provide small cash transfers[1] to extremely poor families, conditioned to keep their children in school and take them to preventive health check-ups[2]. At the time of its creation, I was only fourteen years old and had the conception that it was not addressing the poverty issue. Additionally, I believed that the amount of money spent on the program was too great and by compromising that investment with one policy, the Government left many public problems unattended. Continue reading “Brazilians Have A Civic Role In Keeping the “Bolsa Familia” Program”

Confirmation bias and the impeachment: How social media in Brazil helped alienate public opinion

by Fernanda Nogueira, Co-Editor and Writer at Brazil Talk

Over 90% of Brazilians use social media to read the news, and 70% of them have Facebook as their main source[1]. It is a global trend, and it presents serious risks to public participation in politics, for the simple fact that one can select exactly what type of news one wishes to see. Even worse, based on your profile information, social media instruments now develop algorithms that determine what reaches your newsfeed, tailored to your tastes and beliefs[2].  This allows people to avoid opinions with which one would otherwise disagree. This conduct has led to an alienation of public opinion in Brazil and abroad and has divided people into very distant groups in face of recent events, such as the president’s impeachment, hindering real civic participation in such an important time.

Continue reading “Confirmation bias and the impeachment: How social media in Brazil helped alienate public opinion”