Decentralization and Reform in Latin America

Decentralization and Reform in Latin America

Improving Intergovernmental Relations

Edited by Giorgio Brosio and Juan P. Jiménez

Decentralisation and Reform in Latin America analyses the process of intergovernmental reform in Latin America in the last two decades and presents a number of emerging issues. These include the impacts of decentralization and the response of countries in the region to challenge such as social cohesion, interregional and interpersonal disparities, the assignment of social and infrastructure expenditure, macrofinancial shocks, fiscal rules and the sharing of natural resources revenue. The main aim of the book is to assess the effective working of decentralized arrangements and institutions, with a view of suggesting corrections and reforms where the system is not working according to expectations.

Chapter 2: Federalism and fiscal federalism: the emergence and distortion of the centro-federalist constitutional model in its political and fiscal manifestations

Roberto Gargarella and Gustavo Arballo

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, public finance


The question of federalism in general, and of fiscal federalism in particular, has been a central theme of Latin American constitutional history from its beginnings. Placing the issue in the context of Latin American constitutional history can help us recognize that the debate over federalism and the duties of the national state has been a feature of constitutionalism since its inception, and involves different ways of designing constitutional arrangements. This has always been a central point of a dispute that is still far from being resolved, whether in theoretical or in practical terms. The dispute, in turn, reflects differing views as to how best to assemble the various pieces of the constitutional puzzle. In other words: the still-unresolved debate over the scope of federalism and its arrangements is not merely the result of the relative ‘backwardness’ of our societies, a shortage of resources, recurrent economic crises, or the failure to consolidate and strengthen our institutions. The debate over federalism is in fact part of a broader dispute, also unresolved, over the constitutional model that should guide the organization of our societies.

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