restricted access Decentralization's Nondemocratic Roots: Authoritarianism and Subnational Reform in Latin America

This study challenges the common view of authoritarianism as an unambiguously centralizing experience by investigating the subnational reforms that military governments actually introduced in Latin America. It argues that the decision by military authorities to dismiss democratically elected mayors and governors opened a critical juncture for the subsequent development of subnational institutions. Once they centralized political authority, the generals could contemplate changes that expanded the institutional, administrative, and governing capacity of subnational governments. This article shows how cross-national variation in the content and consistency of the generals' economic goals led to quite distinct subnational changes; in each case, these reforms profoundly shaped the democracies that reemerged in the 1980s and 1990s.