Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Departamento de Ciencia Política y Estudios Internacionales
Centro de Investigaciones sobre Federalismo y Política Provincial (CIFePro)

Artículos de los Investigadores

Bonvecchi Alejandro, “Fiscal Federal Politics in Authoritarian Regimes: Theory and Evidence from Argentina, 1976-1983”, presentado en el seminario del Political Economy Group, American University of Paris, 1 de febrero de 2006.

The idea of an authoritarian federation appears as an anomaly for both the theory of federalism and the theory of authoritarian institutions. Yet there are and have been numerous cases of authoritarian regimes with federal institutions. This paper proposes a theoretical framework to account for authoritarian federations and their fiscal federal politics and illustrates it with evidence from Argentina’s last military dictatorship. The theory argues that a) authoritarian regimes introduce or retain federal institutions to increase the stability of ruling coalitions when political and/or economic power is dispersed throughout the territory, b) federal institutions require a high integration of political forces to prevent disruptive intergovernmental bargaining from endangering the stability of the ruling coalition, and c) national governments must distribute fiscal resources among subnational power-holders according to the universalistic logic of pork-barrel or rent-seeking fiscal politics in order to secure the integration of the governing political forces. The evidence from Argentina’s last military dictatorship appears to be consistent with the theory. The Argentine military developed a set of institutions that divided power both horizontally and vertically by distributing all institutional positions equally among the Armed Forces, so as to secure their political integration in government. This generated a fiscal federal politics in which the central government engaged in political-business cycles and compensated subnational power-holders for their cooperation in the implementation of policies conflictive with provincial interests. 

Gervasoni Carlos, “Conceptualizing and Measuring Subnational Democracy. An Expert Survey Approach”. Working Paper # 23. The Committee on Concepts and Methods. IPSA-CIDE.

This paper presents a conceptualization and operationalization of the degree of democracy (as opposed to the quality of democracy) in the Argentine provinces. I use a mainstream and “thick” definition of regime type, and posit that the least democratic subnational units in Argentina and other third-wave federations are better understood as hybrid regimes rather than “subnational authoritarianisms.” I discuss the implications of this conceptualization for measurement, develop a full operationalization of the concept, and present the methodological design of a survey of experts that serves as the measurement instrument. Preliminary results are presented as an illustration of the type of information that will be available once the survey is complete. Some dimensions of democracy –such as inclusion and fair counting of the votes– show little inter-provincial variance, while others –such as freedom of expression and institutional constraints on the executive– vary considerably from province to province.

Gervasoni Carlos, “The Many Dimensions of Democratic and Hybrid Subnational Regimes: Evidence from an Expert Survey in Argentina”. Conferencia Sub-national Democratization: Latin America, the United States, Russia and India in Comparative Perspective. Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. Buenos Aires, 15-16 de abril de 2010.

This paper presents an operationalization of the degree of democracy in the argentine provinces. Starting with a mainstream and “thick” definition of regime  type, I measure each of its aspects using a subjective or perception-based strategy that taps the knowledge of experts. I briefly introduce the resulting Survey of Experts on Provincial Politics (SEPP) and present its main results. Some aspects of the provincial regimes appear to be clearly democratic, while others are mixed or even leaning towards authoritarianism. Moreover, some show little inter-provincial variance, while others vary considerably from province to province. Inclusion is the most democratic dimension, while institutional constraints is the most deficient. Overall, the state of democracy in the provinces appears to be mixed (i.e., average levels are neither too high nor too low) and generally heterogeneous (i.e., there are significant inter-provincial differences). Individual provincial regimes range from democratic to hybrid: although some authoritarian practices exist, no province fits the classical definition of authoritarianism. A key finding is that the different aspects of democracy measured by the survey are not always correlated, and therefore cannot be easily reduced (via factor analysis) to one or two dimensions. Provincial regimes seem to be complex and multidimensional, likely more so than national regimes.

Gervasoni Carlos, “Fiscal Federalism as a Source of Rents: Subnational Rentier States and Democracy in Argentina”. Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Toronto, September 3-6, 2009.

The literature on the rentier state has been understandably dominated by natural resource rents. The latter concept, however, is unnecessarily low in the ladder of abstraction. I undertake an conceptual analysis of the social science meanings assigned to the terms “rents” and “rentier states,” propose and define a new and more abstract concept - fiscal rents - that encompasses resource rents and other types of rent identified in the literature, and demonstrate, using Argentina as an illustration, that intergovernmental revenue-sharing systems can give rise to a previously neglected type of fiscal rent, fiscal federalism rents. The argument that all fiscal rents, based on resources or not, have the potential to hinder democracy, and in particular that fiscal federalism rents are deleterious to subnational democracy, expands the rentier state literature in two directions. First, it shifts the focus up the ladder of abstraction from resource and other specific rents to fiscal rents. Regardless of their specific source, all fiscal rents share the key attributes of bestowing on incumbents fiscal external resources that do not require wide taxation and that have the potential to be much larger than what such taxation could yield. Second, the argument shifts the focus down by applying this more general understanding of rentierism to subnational regimes, an empirical domain that scholars of democracy have only recently tackled. Fiscal federalism rents do not reduce subnational democracy mechanically. Rather, they serve as an enabling condition that may or may not be exploited by subnational incumbents.

Gervasoni Carlos, “Measuring Variance in Subnational Regimes: Results from an Expert-based Operationalization of Democracy in the Argentine Provinces” Meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 11-14, 2009.

This paper presents an operationalization of the degree of democracy in the Argentine provinces. Starting with a mainstream and “thick” definition of regime type, I measure each of its aspects using a subjective or perception-based strategy that taps the knowledge of experts. I present and justify the methodological design of the resulting Survey of Experts on Provincial Politics (SEPP) and conduct preliminary analysis of its results. Some aspects of the provincial regimes appear to be clearly democratic, while others are mixed or even leaning towards authoritarianism. Moreover, some show little inter-provincial variance, while others vary considerably from province to province. A systematic analysis of the central tendency and dispersion of the survey items allows for a general (although still incomplete) description of subnational democracy in Argentina. Inclusion is the strongest dimension of democracy, while institutional constraints is the weakest. Overall, the state of democracy in the provinces appears to be mixed (i.e., average levels are neither too high nor too low) and heterogeneous (i.e., there are significant inter-provincial differences).

Lodola Germán, "Subnational Particularistic Spending and Electoral Returns in Argentina and Brazil" (Febrero 2010)

Lodola Germán y Kikuchi Hirokazu, “Political Careerism, Ambitions, and Regional Interests in Senatorial Behavior: The Argentine Case” (Noviembre 2009)