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