Federalism and democratic transitions: The "new" politics of the governors in Brazil

David Samuels, Fernando Luiz Abrucio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Although federalism is a potentially important variable in democratization, few studies explore its impact in democratic transitions and consolidation. Scholars generally agree that federalism is quite strong in contemporary Brazil. This study examines how and why strong federalism reemerged in Brazil following twenty years of centralizing military rule. In brief, the 1964-1985 military regime tried but failed to transform the state-based organizational structure and power base of Brazil's traditional political elite; Brazil's "transitional" electoral cycle also reinforced the strength of state governors. Examples are provided of how subnational actors influenced the transition process in the national government and how state-based actors and interests challenge Brazil's efforts to consolidate its democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-61
Number of pages19
JournalPublius: The Journal of Federalism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


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