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


  • Stefan Krause
  • Fabio Mendez


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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  • Stefan Krause & Fabio Mendez, 2006. "Does Opportunism Pay Off? A Study of Vote Functions and Policy Preferences," Emory Economics 0604, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  • Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0604

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    6. 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.
    7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
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    12. William D. Nordhaus, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 169-190.
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