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Does Opportunism Pay Off? A Study of Vote Functions and Policy Preferences

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  • Stefan Krause
  • Fabio Mendez

Abstract

We present an empirical study of voting behavior to analyze the impact of opportunism; that is, whenever political incumbents implement economic policies strategically and in connection with general elections in order to gain votes. We derive a measure for opportunism that is isolated from the impact of aggregate economic conditions, such as the levels of economic growth and consumer price inflation. In contrast with most papers available on these issues, we do not ask whether political parties behave opportunistically; instead, we ask whether they receive a direct, electoral punishment or incentive for doing so. Our results indicate that the electorate punishes an incumbent party for behaving opportunistically, controlling for economic conditions and political variables. The party in power receives a significantly lower percentage of votes whenever it follows expansionary policies during the election year, relative to the other years of its tenure.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) in its series Emory Economics with number 0604.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0604

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  1. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
  2. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, . "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Working Papers 121, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Krause, Stefan & Méndez, Fabio, 2008. "Institutions, arrangements and preferences for inflation stability: Evidence and lessons from a panel data analysis," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 282-307, March.
  4. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Working Papers 99-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Stefan Krause, 2006. "Optimal monetary policy and the equivalency between the one-period AD-AS model and the forward-looking New Keynesian model," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(9), pages 541-544.
  6. Ruge-Murcia, F.J., 2001. "Inflation Targeting Under Asymmetric Preferences," Cahiers de recherche 2001-04, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  7. Paldam, Martin, 1986. "The distribution of election results and the two explanations of the cost of ruling," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 5-24.
  8. Beck, T.H.L. & Clarke, G. & Groff, A. & Keefer , P. & Walsh, P., 2001. "New tools in comparative political economy: The database of political institutions," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125517, Tilburg University.
  9. Castro, Vitor & Veiga, Francisco Jose, 2004. "Political business cycles and inflation stabilization," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-6, April.
  10. Stefan Krause & Fabio Méndez, 2005. "Policy Makers' Preferences, Party Ideology, and the Political Business Cycle," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 752-767, April.
  11. William D. Nordhaus, 1989. "Alternative Approaches to the Political Business Cycle," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(2), pages 1-68.
  12. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
  13. Jon Faust & John Irons, 1996. "Money, politics and the post-war business cycle," International Finance Discussion Papers 572, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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