Texto para Discussão, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (IPEA) 1884
The election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva marked Brazil's resumption of big government intervention in the economy, particularly through investment in a variety of infrastructure projects, as evidenced by the launch of the Growth Acceleration Program in 2007. Historically, such infrastructural projects were typical of the Vargas government and were especially common during the Authoritarian Period (1964-1985), when the State planned to build hydroelectric dams, to pave roads, etc. The current context is radically different, however, being characterized by a political and institutional arrangement that involves multiple stakeholders in the decision and implementation process of public policies, and is marked by a close relationship between State and civil society and by environmental legislation that makes the approval process of projects with environmental impact more rigorous. This article aims to analyze the performance of the contemporary Brazilian state by studying the encounter between state activism and democratization. We conduct a comparative study between the political and institutional arrangement of the past, characterized by dictatorship and developmentalism; and the current arrangement of democracy and developmentalism. This comparative analysis is based on the study of two large dams planned to the Amazon, Tucurui and Belo Monte. We conclude that the current arrangement stimulates the defense of a variety of interests, which explains the technical superiority of the current hydroelectric projects. Nevertheless, the current arrangement is not able to organize and conciliate the conflicts that emerge from the clashes of divergent interests, which have caused the judicialization of the decision and implementation process of dams and also the low legitimacy of these projects. The difficulty to conciliate interests is explained by differences between state branches involved in the construction of large dams: the decision-making capacity is concentrated in state agencies that are politically closed whereas the participatory capacity is concentrated in state agencies with low decisional capacity. The methodology used in this paper is varied and includes interviews with key political actors and documental analysis.
developmentalism democracy state activism hydroelectric Amazon Belo Monte