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Unraveling the Politics of Decentralization: Argentina and Spain in Comparative Perspective

Gordin, Jorge (2005) Unraveling the Politics of Decentralization: Argentina and Spain in Comparative Perspective. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation explores the politics of fiscal decentralization in comparative perspective. Case studies of Argentina and Spain are used to provide insights into the way that the distribution of institutional and economic resources in multitiered polities shapes the extent to which the policy of transferring revenue and revenue authority to subnational governments can be exploited for political gain. This approach draws attention to the political conditions that inhibit the coordination of fiscal reform efforts between the different levels of government and perpetuate the financing of subnational spending with revenue collected by the national government. This political context undermines national fiscal adjustment efforts and leads to economic catastrophes such as those experienced in Argentina throughout the last two decades. Specifically, this study uses statistical analyses and empirical institutional theory to show how patterns of territorial representation and bargaining strategies hindered revenue decentralization in Argentina but advanced it in Spain.The research suggests, first, coalition-building goals drive national executives in Argentina to reach out legislators of the opposition by means of allocating larger shares of federal transfers to the provinces the latter belong to. However, all else equal, legislatively overrepresented, i.e. economically marginal and sparsely populated, provinces will be targeted first. Second, the increasing role of regionalist parties in Spanish national politics and their acceptance in joint-policy mechanisms tilts the allocation of chosen federal transfers slightly in favor of economically developed and densely populated autonomous communities, which are generally governed by regionalist forces. Third, whereas Argentine subnational interests are "locked-in" at the Senate level and intergovernmental negotiations are conducted bilaterally, open-ended institutional arrangements and a relatively impotent senate in Spain boosted the redressing of regional concerns through informal intergovernmental fora and increasing multilateral collaboration Fourth, such differences in patterns of institutional representation and bargaining strategies explain the paucity of fiscal decentralization in Argentina and its relative progress in Spain.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberPeters, B. Guybgpeters@pitt.eduBGPETERS
Committee ChairSbragia, Alberta Msbragia@ucis.pitt.eduSBRAGIA
Committee MemberPicard, Louispicard@pitt.eduPICARD
Committee MemberKeech, William
Date: 31 January 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 16 September 2004
Approval Date: 31 January 2005
Submission Date: 14 October 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Argentina; Decentralization; Federalism; Spain
Other ID:, etd-10142004-124305
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:02
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:50


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