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The road to power: partisan loyalty and the centralized provision of local infrastructure

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  • Marcelin Joanis

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Abstract

Because they yield durable and visible benefits to voters, public infrastructure expenditures are an attractive instrument for politicians to build enduring electoral support in their constituencies. Static models of special-interest politics typically predict that public spending should be targeted at swing voters, at the expense of voters who display strong partisan loyalty. Yet static theories are not well-suited to capture the implications of long-run relationships between political parties and their loyal supporters. To address this limitation, I set out a simple dynamic probabilistic voting model in which a government allocates a fixed budget across electoral districts that differ in their loyalty to the ruling party. The model predicts that the contemporaneous geographic pattern of spending depends on the way the government balances long-run ‘machine politics’ considerations with the more immediate concern to win over swing voters. To assess the empirical relevance of both forces, I analyze rich data on road spending from a panel of electoral districts in Québec. Empirical results exploiting the province’s linguistic fragmentation provide robust evidence that partisan loyalty is a key driver of the geographic allocation of spending, in contrast with the standard ‘swing voter’ view.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 146 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 117-143

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:146:y:2011:i:1:p:117-143

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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Keywords: Partisan loyalty; Swing voters; Political competition; Local public goods; Distributive politics; Long-run relationships;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Mario Jametti & Marcelin Joanis, 2011. "Electoral Competition as a Determinant of Fiscal Decentralization," CESifo Working Paper Series 3574, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. André, Pierre & Mesplé-Somps, Sandrine, 2011. "Politics and the geographic allocation of public funds in a semi-democracy: The case of Ghana, 1996-2004," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 6, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  3. Pierre André & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2013. "Sitting on the fence: Pork-barrels and democratization under threat of conflict. The case of Ghana, 1996 - 2004," THEMA Working Papers 2013-24, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  4. Albert Solé-Ollé, 2009. "Inter-Regional redistribution through infrastructure investment: tactical or programmatic?," Working Papers 2009/32, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  5. Mesplé-Somps, Sandrine & André, Pierre, 2011. "The Allocation of Public Goods and National Elections in Ghana," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/12069, Paris Dauphine University.
  6. Kumar Das, Pranab & Kar, Saibal & Kayal, Madhumanti, 2011. "Religious Minorities and Provision of Public Goods: Evidence from Rural West Bengal," IZA Discussion Papers 6154, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Per G. Fredriksson & Xenia Matschke & Jenny Minier, 2008. "For Sale: Trade Policy in Majoritarian Systems," Working papers 2008-20, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  8. C. Reynolds, 2014. "State politics, tuition, and the dynamics of a political budget cycle," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 1241-1270, June.

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