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Pork for Policy: Executive and Legislative Exchange in Brazil

Lee Alston and Bernardo Mueller ()

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2006, vol. 22, issue 1, 87-114

Abstract: The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 gave relatively strong powers to the president. We model and test executive-legislative relations in Brazil and demonstrate that presidents have used pork as a political currency to exchange for votes on policy reforms. In particular Presidents Cardoso and Lula have used pork to exchange for amendments to the Constitution. Without policy reforms Brazil would have had greater difficulty meeting its debt obligations. The logic for the exchange of pork for policy reform is that presidents typically have greater electoral incentives than members of Congress to care about economic growth, economic opportunity, income equality, and price stabilization. Members of Congress generally care more about redistributing gains to their constituents. Given the differences in preferences and the relative powers of each, the legislative and executive branches benefit by exploiting the gains from trade. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Date: 2006
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