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Political institutions and public spending: a comparative study of Brazilian states


One of main features of Brazilian democratization was the decentralization of political and administrative power. The scope of the decentralization process initiated with the popular election of state governors in 1982, and consolidated by the new Constitution of 1988, has no precedents in Brazilian history. It changed the Brazilian Federalism, by raising the importance of the subnational governments. Decentralization motivated an increase in scholarship about local governments. Yet, most studies focused on municipal governments, rather than on state ones. These studies raised important questions and hypotheses, but the comparative knowledge about state still lags behind. This lack parallels another one: the effects of the political game over the public budget; which are not clearly established either. Though concerns with public spending have increased, academic analysis have concentrated more on issues about the best allocation of public resources than on the political determinants of budgetary choices. This research proposal aims to investigate the effects of both institutions and the political modus operandi (independent variables) over the allocation of public resources (dependent variable) in Brazilian states. The independent variables are divided in two lines of investigation: the first will focus electoral aspects; the second will focus on governance aspects. The first line of investigation will explore both governors and political parties; electoral strategies; and the accountability patterns toward state citizens. The second line will explore the relationship between the governor and the state assembly; particularly, local political coalitions, and the resources the executive resorts to build up legislative majorities in local assemblies. The research will make use of both quantitative and qualitative methods. A case study will be undertaken for each state to collect necessary data, later used to build up an unprecedented data bank with comparable information. To realize these two objectives, the research will rely on a council composed by researchers with previous work on subnational governments. This council will help on the definition not only of the data set but also on case studies. The research will also work with graduate students all over the country - Political Science students will be preferred - during the data collection. Moreover, these students are expected to participate in both quantitative and qualitative studies produced by the research. Some innovations in this research project deserve further attention. The first is its search for greater empirical and comparative knowledge on state politics and its effects over public policies. The second is the proposal to build up a data set, with no precedent, which will be available to the whole academic community through a partnership with the Brazilian Association of Political Science (ABCP). Third, the interaction with the council lays the basis of a more collective work, which is fundamental in a research of such scope and complexity. Finally, the pedagogical aspect of the project is essential, as it puts together young researchers who will learn how to work with the same data using different research methods. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa FAPESP Magazine about the research grant:
The Power of the Parties 
El poder de los partidos 
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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
BARBERIA‚ L.G.; BIDERMAN‚ C.. Local economic development: Theory‚ evidence‚ and implications for policy in Brazil. GEOFORUM, v. 41, n. 6, p. 951-962, . (08/03595-7)

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