ABSTRACT

No sequence of the game is played from scratch. Previous stages of the game in time t – 1 influenced the dynamics of the game in time t. The erosion of the federal government’s fiscal balance, the parallel strengthening of subnational governments’, and the sharp macroeconomic disequilibrium generated by gubernatorial predation during the first presidencies post-transition to democracy in Argentina and Brazil contributed to intensifying the presidents’ fiscal incentives to alter the status quo ante. Despite these incentives, how can a president pass centralizing reforms against the most powerful governors in the region? How were federal executives capable of doing so after a period in which subnational governments were notably strengthened in relation to the central government? How could presidents erode subnational autonomy in a regional context in which political, fiscal, and administrative decentralization was on the rise? In this chapter, I analyze the process by which the primus concentrated political power, clashed against the pares, and passed centralizing reforms that notably debilitated them.