nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2011‒02‒19
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. A Political Agency Model of Coattail Voting By Zudenkova, Galina
  2. Democracy, Elections and Allocation of Public Expenditure in Developing Countries By Clémence Vergne
  3. Spain’s Referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty: A Quantitative Analysis Within the Conceptual Framework of First and Second Order Elections By Ozgur Erkan
  4. Left, Right and Beyond: the Pragmatics of Political Mapping By Jonathan White
  5. Economic Voting in Portuguese Municipal Elections By Rodrigo Martins; Francisco José Veiga
  6. Public sector efficiency and political culture By Raffaela Giordano; Pietro Tommasino
  7. The politics of justification? Applying the ‘discourse quality index’ to the study of the European Parliament By Christopher Lord; Dionysia Tamvaki
  8. Oil Price Shocks, Income, and Democracy By Markus Bruckner; Antonio Ciccone; Andrea Tesei

  1. By: Zudenkova, Galina
    Abstract: This paper provides a theoretical model for the coattail effect, where a popular candidate for one branch of government attracts votes to candidates from the same political party for other branches of government. I assume a political agency framework with moral hazard in order to analyze the coattail effect in simultaneous presidential and congressional elections. I show that coattail voting is the outcome of the optimal reelection scheme adopted by a representative voter to motivate politicians' efforts in a retrospective voting environment. I assume that an office-motivated politician (executive or member of congress) prefers her counterpart to be affiliated with the same political party. This correlation of incentives leads the voter to adopt a joint performance evaluation rule, which is conditioned on the politicians belonging to the same party or to different parties. Two-sided coattail effects then arise. On the one hand, an executive's success props up, while failure drags down, her partisan ally in the congressional election, which implies a presidential coattail effect. On the other hand, the executive's reelection itself is affected by a congress member's performance, which results in a reverse coattail effect.
    Keywords: Coattail voting; Presidential coattail effect; Reverse coattail effect; Simultaneous elections; Political Agency; Retrospective voting.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2010–12–01
  2. By: Clémence Vergne (CERDI - Centre d'études et de recherches sur le developpement international - CNRS : UMR6587 - Université d'Auvergne - Clermont-Ferrand I)
    Abstract: This paper overcomes traditional political budget cycles models, focusing solely on the dynamics of the overall budget, in order to shed light on electoral composition changes in public spending. Using data on 42 developing countries from 1975 to 2001, we find evidence of electoral impacts on the allocation of public expenditure. Our results show that election-year public spending shifts towards more visible current expenditure, in particular wages and subsidies, and away from capital expenditure. Futhermore, our findings suggest that electoral impacts on the allocation of public spending are likely to endure, even though countries gain experience in electoral politics.
    Keywords: Political budget cycles;public expenditure composition;developing countries
    Date: 2011–02–09
  3. By: Ozgur Erkan
    Abstract: In contrast to the attention devoted to the rejection of the EU Constitutional Treaty at French and Dutch referenda; the Spanish referendum, where this Treaty was ratified, remained under-researched by political scientists. This paper analyses the voting behaviour at the Spanish referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty with the use of quantitative methods and the concept of first and second-order elections. This paper finds that the Spanish referendum was a second-order referendum, because the effects of domestic political issues in Spain had a greater impact on the electoral behaviour of Spanish voters than had genuinely European issues. This finding raises doubts over the suitability of using direct democracy in the EU in order to raise the legitimacy and democratic accountability of the European project.
    Keywords: Spain; referendum
    Date: 2010–06–01
  4. By: Jonathan White
    Abstract: This paper examines the political categories of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’, in particular as they are evoked and instrumentalised by political actors in the democratic process. Drawing on some of the insights of positioning theory, it shows how ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ are discursive resources deployed, contested and resisted in political exchange. The paper looks in depth at some of the political uses to which Left-Right talk may be put, discussing in particular acts of partisan profiling, of legitimisation and subversion, and the evocation or rejection of political continuity. The paper argues that while these usages can be seen as strategic moves pursued for political advantage, they have a larger significance insofar as they indicate one of the ways the democratically important imagery of Left and Right may remain active in European politics.
    Date: 2010–06–01
  5. By: Rodrigo Martins (Universidade de Coimbra / GEMF); Francisco José Veiga (Universidade do Minho)
    Abstract: This paper analyses the impact of economic conditions on Portuguese local electoral outcomes. We use two extensive datasets to estimate an economic voting model which accounts for the possibility that different levels of government have different levels of responsibility for economic outcomes and for clarity of government responsibility. Empirical results indicate that the performance of the national economy is important especially if local governments are of the same party as the central government. The municipal situation is also relevant particularly in scenarios of higher clarity of government responsibility
    Keywords: Local governments, Elections, Portugal, Voting, Economic conditions
    JEL: D72 H7
    Date: 2010–10
  6. By: Raffaela Giordano (Bank of Italy); Pietro Tommasino (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: The capability of a country's public sector to provide high-quality goods and services in a cost-effective way is crucial to fostering long-term growth. In this paper we study the determinants of public service efficiency (PSE) and in particular the role of citizens' political values. Indeed, we argue that citizens' willingness to invest time and effort monitoring public affairs is necessary if policy-makers are to be held accountable for what they do and deterred from wasting public resources. Contrary to other papers, our empirical analysis exploits within-country variation, therefore reducing the risk of omitted variable bias and implicitly controlling for differences in formal institutions. First, we compute PSE measures for several public services (namely education, civil justice, healthcare, childcare and waste disposal) for the 103 Italian provinces; then we show that a higher degree of political engagement increases PSE. This remains true even after controlling for the possible endogeneity of political culture. In our analysis, values specifically related to the political sphere are kept distinct from generically pro-social values. Our results suggest that the latter have no independent impact on PSE.
    Keywords: public spending, efficiency, culture
    JEL: C14 H50 H77 Z13
    Date: 2011–01
  7. By: Christopher Lord; Dionysia Tamvaki
    Abstract: In this paper, we apply a revised version of the discourse quality index (DQI) developed by Steenbergen et al. on European Parliament debates in an attempt to evaluate the democratic quality of representation at the EU level. This updated measurement instrument, after the inclusion of new indicators, helps us identify not just the principles of EU deliberation but most importantly the favourable contextual conditions of supranational deliberation. We illustrate the new DQI coding for selected debates over the last EU parliamentary term and across six debate topics following the former three pillar structure of the Union. We discuss how these data can be employed to assess the overall quality of deliberation in the European Parliament. At the same time we demonstrate that institutional issues matter for the quality of EP discourse much like MEPs personal characteristics. Issue attributes on the other hand, influence supranational deliberation but not in the expected direction.
    Keywords: deliberative democracy; democracy; European Parliament; MEPs; political science
    Date: 2011–02–15
  8. By: Markus Bruckner (School of Economics, University of Adelaide); Antonio Ciccone (Universitat Pompeu Fabra); Andrea Tesei (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
    Abstract: We examine the effect of oil price fluctuations on democratic institutions over the 1960-2007 period. We also exploit the very persistent response of income to oil price fluctuations to study the effect of persistent (oil price-driven) income shocks on democracy. Our results indicate that countries with greater net oil exports over GDP see improvements in democratic institutions following upturns in international oil prices. We estimate that a 1 percentage point increase in per capita GDP growth due to a positive oil price shock increases the Polity democracy score by around 0.2 percentage points on impact and by around 2 percentage points in the long run. The effect on the probability of a democratic transition is around 0.4 percentage points.
    Keywords: democracy, oil price shocks, persistent income shocks
    JEL: P16 O10
    Date: 2011–02

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