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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. Francisco Javier Ruge-Murcia, 2001. "Inflation Targeting Under Asymmetric Preferences," IMF Working Papers 01/161, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Stefan Krause, 2003. "Optimal Monetary Policy and the Equivalency between the One-period AD-AS Model and the Forward-looking New Keynesian Model," Emory Economics 0317, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  3. Mark Gertler & Jordi Gali & Richard Clarida, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
  4. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Stefan Krause & Fabio Mendez, 2005. "Institutions, Arrangements, and Preferences for Inflation Stability: Evidence and Lessons from a Panel Data Analysis," Emory Economics 0501, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  8. 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.).
  9. Vítor Castro & Francisco José Veiga, 2002. "Political Business Cycles and Inflation Stabilization," NIPE Working Papers 9/2002, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  10. William D. Nordhaus, 1989. "Alternative Approaches to the Political Business Cycle," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 927, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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