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The Road to Power: Partisan Loyalty and the Centralized Provision of Local Infrastructure

  • Marcelin Joanis


    (Université de Sherbrooke, GREDI and CIRANO)

Because they yield durable and visible benefits to voters, public infrastructure expenditures are an attractive instrument for politicians to build enduring electoral support in their constituencies. Static models of special-interest politics typically predict that public spending should be targeted at swing voters, at the expense of voters who display strong partisan loyalty. Yet static theories are not well-suited to capture the implications of long-run relationships between political parties and their loyal supporters. To address this limitation, I set out a simple dynamic probabilistic voting model in which a government allocates a fixed budget across electoral districts that differ in their loyalty to the ruling party. The model predicts that the contemporaneous geographic pattern of spending depends on the way the government balances long-run ‘machine politics’ considerations with the more immediate concern to win over swing voters. To assess the empirical relevance of both forces, I analyze rich data on road spending from a panel of electoral districts in Québec. Empirical results exploiting the province’s linguistic fragmentation provide robust evidence that partisan loyalty is a key driver of the geographic allocation of spending, in contrast with the standard ‘swing voter’ view.

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Paper provided by Departement d'Economique de la Faculte d'administration à l'Universite de Sherbrooke in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 08-15.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:shr:wpaper:08-15
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