By Adrian Gurza Lavalle, John Sydenstricker, Júlia Andrade,Denise Vitale, Einar Bratheim, Adriane Batata



In this latest Chance2Sustain city report , Adrian Gurza Lavalle and fellow Chance2Sustain researchers take a closer look at three Brazilian cities: Guarulhos, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro


The main basic features of Brazilian governance at city level are set by some characteristics of Brazilian federalism, and those features vary across policies and contingently upon sate level and municipal level institutional arrangement within those policies. A distinctive peculiarity of Brazilian federalism is that the 1988 Constitution gave the country’s municipalities the status of autonomous entities within the federation. In other words, while federalism is usually defined by a dual relation between state and federal levels of government, Brazil possesses a tripartite relation between autonomous entities: the federation, states and municipalities.


The municipalities acquired a degree of political importance unprecedented in national history: their number leapt from 3,991 in 1980 to 5,561 in 2001; over the same period, their share of tax revenue obtained by the three levels of government rose from 8.6% to 16.09%; and they also saw an expansion in their capacity for implementing policies, especially in the area of social policies. That scenario would deceivingly suggest that cities have room for agency because of strong federalism and the relation of the later with decentralization. However precisely the opposite has happened in Brazil: the predominant tendency is for the streamlining of policies into the same molds by central government, which then are implemented at municipal by contracts between municipalities and central government.


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Chance2Sustain City Report Series - ISSN 2309-8198