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Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes and Policy Outcomes in Brazil

Bernardo Mueller (), Carlos Pereira (), Marcus Melo and Lee Alston

No 3199, Research Department Publications from Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department

Abstract: We found that the driving force behind policies in Brazil is the strong set of powers given to the President by the Constitution of 1988. To have strong powers does not mean unbridled powers. Several institutions constrain and check the power of the President, in particular the legislature, the judiciary, the public prosecutors, the auditing office, state governors and the Constitution itself. The electorate of Brazil holds the President accountable for economic growth, inflation and unemployment. Because of the electoral connection, and perhaps reputational effects, presidents in Brazil have a strong incentive to pursue stable fiscal and monetary policies as their first priority. At least for the past ten years, and particularly in the new administration of Lula, executive power has been aimed at pushing policy towards macro orthodoxy. Although orthodoxy may not lead to short-term growth, international financial markets provide additional incentives for discipline, as deviations are instantly punished, with unfavorable consequences that are readily recognized by the electorate. Achieving stable macro policies required constitutional amendments as well as considerable legislation. To attain their goals, the past administrations (Cardoso and Lula in particular) used their property rights over pork to trade for policy changes. The rationale for members of Congress to exchange votes on policy for pork is that the electorates reward or punish members of Congress based on the degree to which pork lands in their district. With the exception of the devaluation of 1999, macro policy has become more stable over time. We categorize macro policies in Brazil as `stable but adaptable. `

Date: 2006-03
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Working Paper: Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes and Policy Outcomes in Brazil (2011) Downloads
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