From ‘isolated’ federalism to hybridity

Authored by: Celina Souza

Routledge Handbook of Regionalism and Federalism

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415566216
eBook ISBN: 9780203395974
Adobe ISBN: 9781136727627


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Brazilian federalism was shaped by political, economic and territorial cleavages and pacts throughout Brazil’s history. Variances in local-state-centre relations or in territorial politics over time show that Brazil has experienced a continuum of federal relations, moving from an ‘isolated’ federalism in the early republican days to centralization during two authoritarian regimes and finally to a more complex system that embodies features of both decentralization and centralization as a result of 1988 Constitution, which re-established democracy. The country has evolved from few links between levels of government soon after the end of the monarchy, to political, administrative and financial centralization during two authoritarian regimes, to a more liberal approach to the role of the state when democracy was restored in 1945, and finally to a complex combination of centralization and decentralization and participatory and representative democracy. Despite these variances, Brazil has retained certain features across the centuries. Among them, two stand out. The first one is that with very few intermissions, the federal government has never stopped growing and leading economic and social changes. The second is that after each major political change, a new constitution was written up.

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