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Pork for Policy: Executive and Legislative Exchange in Brazil

  • Lee J. Alston
  • Bernardo Mueller

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.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.

Volume (Year): 22 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 87-114

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:22:y:2006:i:1:p:87-114
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  1. James M. Snyder, 1991. "On Buying Legislatures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 93-109, 07.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202, November.
  4. Kenneth Shepsle & Barry Weingast, 1981. "Structure-induced equilibrium and legislative choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 503-519, January.
  5. Mariano Tommasi & Pablo T. Spiller, 2000. "The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy: A Transactions Approach with Application to Argentina," Working Papers 29, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised May 2000.
  6. Octavio Amorim Neto, 1994. "Formação de gabinetes presidenciais no Brasil: coalizão versus cooptação," Nova Economia, Economics Department, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil), vol. 4(1), pages 9-34, November.
  7. Weingast, Barry R & Marshall, William J, 1988. "The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 132-63, February.
  8. Spiller, Pablo T, 1996. "Institutions and Commitment," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 421-52.
  9. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
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