Political Support for Decentralization: An Analysis of the Colombian and Venezuelan Legislatures
Decentralization of the government means that the decision-making power is no longer in hands of a few individuals but is distributed to regional and local levels. This helps in making administration and taking decisions easier so many developing countries have opted for decentralization. However; Colombia and Venezuela were some of the few countries that did it much later than others. The article focuses on finding the data on the members that supported the decentralization. Therefore the research question posed was; “Which members supported the decentralization strongly enough to introduce a bill that would increase its support?” (Escobar-Lemmon, 2003)
Both Columbia and Venezuela were strong democratic countries but their oldest political parties slowly fell out of favor. In this situation; decentralization of the government was seen as the best option. Colombia decided to implement the unitary system and Venezuela chose the federal system. In the unitary system, the final decision-making powers rest with the central government but in the federal system, the control is distributed among the center and units. The support for these types of system came from the political parties that were more popular among the citizens and had better political standing. The citizens also had a high level of trust in this government. The author used the previously passed bills, publicly available documents and election results to study the support variations. This data helped in studying the efficiency of transferring authority in a decentralized government. In Columbia, the decentralization began in 1968 with the amendment of the constitution authorizing the automatic transfer of authority from central government to department governments (Pg.684). Venezuela initiated decentralization in 1988 when elected officials entered the office (Pg.684).
The author collected data for all members of the two Columbian congresses from 1986 to 1990 and 1994 to 1998. Same was done for the four congresses of Venezuela and the data was collected from 1979 to 1998. The logistic regression model (LOGIT) was used to analyze the data as the dependent variables presented dual nature. This model also helped in comparison between the two countries selected for the study. Mixed support evidence was found for the hypothesis through the data collected on both countries. The political parties of Columbia showed more trust in their deputies as opposed to the government. This support acted as an incentive for the deputies to introduce the decentralization bill. The deputies of Venezuela belonged to wealthy districts so the decentralization benefited them more. For this reason, the Venezuelan deputies presented the decentralization bill. The Columbian political parties were more unified as opposed to the Venezuelan political parties. Columbia and Venezuela were some of the oldest countries that had democratic governments in Latin America but the political unrest was causing great turmoil to the fabric of these countries. To prevent further political stress, the countries sought to re-legitimize their authority through decentralization of the governments. The author’s hypothesis was supported by the data and she concluded that although the supporters of decentralization were determined; the success of this system is yet to be determined (Pg. 694).
Escobar-Lemmon, M. (2003). Political Support for Decentralization: An Analysis of the Colombian and Venezuelan Legislatures. American Journal of Political Science, 47(4), 683–697. https://doi.org/10.2307/3186127