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Do Electoral Cycles Differ Across Political Systems?

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  • Torsten Persson
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

Do fiscal policy variables — overall spending, revenue, deficits and welfare-state spending — display systematic patterns in the vicinity of elections? And do such electoral cycles differ among political systems? We investigate these questions in a data set encompassing sixty democracies from 1960-98. Without conditioning on the political system, we find that taxes are cut before elections, painful fiscal adjustments are postponed until after the elections, while welfare-state spending displays no electoral cycle. Our subsequent results show that the pre-election tax cuts is a universal phenomenon. The post-election fiscal adjustments (spending cuts, tax hikes and rises in surplus) are, however, only present in presidential democracies. Moreover, majoritarian electoral rules alone are associated with pre-electoral spending cuts, while proportional electoral rules are associated with expansions of welfare spending both before and after elections.

Suggested Citation

  • Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2003. "Do Electoral Cycles Differ Across Political Systems?," Working Papers 232, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:232
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