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Political Support for Decentralization: An Analysis of the Colombian and Venezuelan Legislatures


  • Research for this article was supported by NSF Grant #SBR-9905295 and a grant from the Tinker Foundation. Additional data collection was supported by NSF Grant #SBR-9708936. I thank Brian Crisp, Robert Harmel, Erika Moreno, and Michelle Taylor-Robinson for their comments. A previous version of this article was presented at the Decentralization and Federalism Workshop sponsored by the Program in the Cross-National Study of Politics, May 4, 2002, Texas A&M University. I thank the participants for their comments. All errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author.

Maria Escobar-Lemmon is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4348 (


A worldwide trend of decentralizing political power, fiscal authority, and the responsibility for providing services to subnational governments has been especially evident in Latin America over the past decade. This article focuses on variation in intracountry support for decentralization, using data on bill initiation from Colombia and Venezuela to determine the domestic sources of this policy. While the data support prior findings that decentralization is supported by parties whose future electoral prospects are better at the subnational level, the analysis also shows that citizen's trust in government and greater wealth affect a deputies' support for decentralization.