ince the very beginnings of development economics the state has been given a prominent role in development strategies. However, this role had not been defined in the context of a theory of the political economy of state intervention that could satisfactorily endogenize the state behavior and the strategic responses of the private sector. We review recent theoretical contributions made by the "new" political economy of the state, with particular emphasis on the theories of government behavior under lobbying by interest groups and of time consistency and credibility in policy making. These theories offer both positive interpretations of state behavior and a set of normative options to enhance the possibility for the state to assume a leadership position. We conclude by discussing the recent theories of games with imperfect information which orrly can explain the observed delays, stalemates, active oppositions, and ex-post accommodations that are so frequent along the path of economic policy making.