Texto para Discussão, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (IPEA) 1625
This paper describes and analyses the results from a pilot study about the exercise of political representation at the local government level, from the viewpoint of city councilors. The key questions that guided this study were: What do councilors perceive as their functions? How do they exercise their functions? How do they interact with voters and the local executive branch? Evidence from semi-structured interviews with 37 councilors from four cities of the state of Minas Gerais points to the existence of two well distinguished perceptions of what is the councilor's function: to legislate and to oversee the mayoral office; and to provide services to the population. Service providers comprise most of the sample cases, and the evidence suggests that voters' demand for this activity is a function of the level of poverty and the size of the city. The evidence also suggests that service providers are divided into assistencialistas and mediadores. Finally, it was found that the interaction of city councilors with the local executive branch follows the pattern seen in other government levels, which is the preponderance and dominance of the executive.