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Election Results and Opportunistic Policies: A New Test of the Rational Political Business Cycle Model

The literature on the rational political business cycle suggests that politicians systematically manipulate economic and fiscal conditions before elections to increase their chance of gaining reelection. Most tests of this theory look for evidence of preelection distortions in fiscal policy. We propose a new test that, instead, explores the implied two-way interaction between the magnitude of the opportunistic distortion and the margin of victory. The test is implemented using a panel of 278 Portuguese municipalities (from 1979 to 2005). The results show that (1) opportunism pays off, leading to a larger win-margin for the incumbent; (2) incumbents behave more opportunistically when their win-margin is small. These results are consistent with the theoretical model.

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Paper provided by NIPE - Universidade do Minho in its series NIPE Working Papers with number 24/2009.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:24/2009
Contact details of provider: Postal: Núcleo de Investigação em Políticas Económicas, Escola de Economia e Gestão, Universidade do Minho, P-4710-057 Braga, Portugal
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  1. Rogoff, Kenneth & Sibert, Anne, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16, January.
  2. Akhmed Akhmedov & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2004. "Opportunistic Political Cycles: Test in a Young Democracy Setting," Economics Working Papers 0047, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
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  10. Seitz, Helmut, 2000. " Fiscal Policy, Deficits and Politics of Subnational Governments: The Case of the German Laender," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(3-4), pages 183-218, March.
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  18. Frey, Bruno S & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "An Empirical Study of Politico-Economic Interaction in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 174-83, May.
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  20. Snyder, James M, 1989. "Election Goals and the Allocation of Campaign Resources," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 637-60, May.
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  22. Frey, Bruno S & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "A Politico-Economic Model of the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 88(350), pages 243-53, June.
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  24. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  25. Kevin Grier, 2008. "US presidential elections and real GDP growth, 1961–2004," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 337-352, June.
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  27. Tuomala, Matti, 1990. "Optimal Income Tax and Redistribution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286059, March.
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