nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2020‒02‒10
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Mitigating the tradeoff between proportionality and accountability in electoral systems: Evidence from the Italian senate 1994-2006 By Alpino, Matteo
  2. International Political Alignment during the Trump Presidency: Voting at the UN General Assembly By Martin Mosler; Niklas Potrafke
  3. Salience and Accountability: School Infrastructureand Last-Minute Electoral Punishment By Nicolas Ajzenman; Ruben Durante
  4. External Threats, Political Turnover and Fiscal Capacity By Hector Galindo-Silva
  5. The Polarization of Reality By Alberto F. Alesina; Armando Miano; Stefanie Stantcheva
  6. The effect of politician-constituent conflict on bureaucratic responsiveness under varying information frames By Wittels, Annabelle Sophie
  7. Who voted for a No Deal Brexit? A Composition Model of Great Britains 2019 European Parliamentary Elections By Stephen Clark
  8. Communicational and lobbying power in German farm animal welfare politics By Grunenberg, Michael; Henning, Christian H. C. A.
  9. Partisan Fiscal Policy: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe By Ondrej Schneider
  10. Exchange Rates and Political Uncertainty: The Brexit Case By P. Manasse; G. Moramarco; G. Trigilia
  11. Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization By Levi Boxell; Matthew Gentzkow; Jesse M. Shapiro

  1. By: Alpino, Matteo
    Abstract: First-past-the-post elections in single-member districts make legislators more accountable to their district of election compared to proportional electoral systems. Accountability makes politicians more sensitive to voters' preferences when deciding where and how to allocate public expenditure, and also reduces rent extraction. On the other hand, first-past-the-post elections generate overrepresentation of majority parties in parliament, potentially hurting minorities and democratic legitimacy. The mixed system used for Italian Senate elections in 1994, 1996 and 2001 mitigates this tradeoff: 3/4 of the seats are assigned to winners in single-member district elections (majoritarian tier), while the rest to the best runners-up based on party-level vote counts (proportional tier). The system mechanically compensates opposition parties, while keeping all legislators equally accountable to their district. In fact, our empirical analysis based on close elections does not find significative differences in targeting of legislative activity to the district, and in absenteeism between senators of different tiers, contrary to what other studies find for mixed systems with two separate ballot lists.
    Keywords: electoral rules,mixed electoral systems,comparative political economy
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Martin Mosler; Niklas Potrafke
    Abstract: We examine voting behavior of Western allied countries in line with the United States over the period 1949 until 2019. Descriptive statistics show that voting in line with the United States on resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was on average 7.2 percentage points lower under Donald Trump than under the preceding United States presidents. The policy shift is especially pronounced for resolutions dealing with the Middle East. The decline in common UNGA voting behavior is significant for the resolution agreement rate and the absolute difference of ideal points. The results suggest that the alienation of Western allies is not driven by ideological distance based on a classical leftwing-rightwing government ideology scale.
    Keywords: Donald Trump, voting alignment, UNGA, political alliances
    JEL: F51 F53 D72 D78 C23
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Nicolas Ajzenman; Ruben Durante
    Abstract: Can seemingly unimportant factors influence voting decisions by making certain issuessalient? We study this question in the context of Argentina 2015 presidential electionsby examining how the quality of the infrastructure of the school where citizens wereassigned to vote influenced their voting choice. Exploiting the quasi-random assignmentof voters to ballot stations located in different public schools in the city of BuenosAires, we find that individuals assigned to schools with poorer infrastructure weresignificantly less likely to vote for Mauricio Macri, the incumbent mayor then runningfor president. The effect is larger in low-income areas - where fewer people can affordprivate substitutes to public education - and in places where more households have children in school age. The effect is unlikely to be driven by information scarcity,since information on public school infrastructure was readily available to parents beforeelections. Rather, direct exposure to poor school infrastructure at the time of votingis likely to make public education - and the poor performance of the incumbent - moresalient.
    Keywords: Elections, Salience, Electoral Punishment, Public Infrastructure, Education
    JEL: D72 D83 I25 D90
    Date: 2019–09
  4. By: Hector Galindo-Silva
    Abstract: In most of the recent literature on state capacity, the significance of wars in state-building assumes that threats from foreign countries generate common interests among domestic groups, leading to larger investments in state capacity. However, many countries that have suffered external conflicts don't experience increased unity. Instead, they face factional politics that often lead to destructive civil wars. This paper develops a theory of the impact of interstate conflicts on fiscal capacity in which fighting an external threat is not always a common-interest public good, and in which interstate conflicts can lead to civil wars. The theory identifies conditions under which an increased risk of external conflict decreases the chance of civil war, which in turn results in a government with a longer political life and with more incentives to invest in fiscal capacity. These conditions depend on the cohesiveness of institutions, but in a non-trivial and novel way: a higher risk of an external conflict that results in lower political turnover, but that also makes a foreign invasion more likely, contributes to state-building only if institutions are sufficiently incohesive.
    Date: 2020–01
  5. By: Alberto F. Alesina; Armando Miano; Stefanie Stantcheva
    Abstract: Americans are polarized not only in their views on policy issues and attitudes towards government and society, but also in their perceptions of the same factual reality. We conceptualize how to think about the “polarization of reality” and review recent papers that show that Republicans and Democrats view the same reality through a different lens. Perhaps, as a result, they hold different views about policies and what should be done to address economic and social issues. We also show that providing information leads to different reassessments of reality and different responses along the policy support margin, depending on one's political leaning.
    JEL: D71 D72 H41 J15 P16 P35
    Date: 2020–01
  6. By: Wittels, Annabelle Sophie
    Abstract: Public participation in rulemaking has long been regarded as an integral part of a functioning democracy. It is however unclear how governments and administrations influence the throughput of public participa- tion, and on a micro-level the decisions of bureaucrats tasked with acting upon such input. In representative democracies the policy positions of elected politicians can divert from public opinion. In addition, public participation initiatives do not commonly attract a fully representative set of society. Thereby demands from the participating public and political principals can diverge. Bureaucrats are then faced with conflicting input. Given bureaucrats’ discretion to manage public participation processes and their outputs, how can we expect them to act? Will they act accord- ing to the wishes of their political principal, will they side with the public or choose to divert. I use a survey experiment with senior bureaucrats in the US and the UK to test this. Further, I assess whether information frames alter such behaviour and whether this varies with the presence of citizen-politician conflict. I find that conflict leads bureaucrats to adopt more of an adviser role, but that information frames have no significant effect.
    Date: 2020–01–24
  7. By: Stephen Clark
    Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to use the votes cast at the 2019 European elections held in United Kingdom to re-visit the analysis conducted subsequent to its 2016 European Union referendum vote. This exercise provides a staging post on public opinion as the United Kingdom moves to leave the European Union during 2020. A composition data analysis in a seemingly unrelated regression framework is adopted that respects the compositional nature of the vote outcome; each outcome is a share that adds up to 100% and each outcome is related to the alternatives. Contemporary explanatory data for each counting area is sourced from the themes of socio-demographics, employment, life satisfaction and place. The study find that there are still strong and stark divisions in the United Kingdom, defined by age, qualifications, employment and place. The use of a compositional analysis approach produces challenges in regards to the interpretation of these models, but marginal plots are seen to aid the interpretation somewhat.
    Date: 2020–01
  8. By: Grunenberg, Michael; Henning, Christian H. C. A.
    Abstract: Farm animal welfare is the main driver of nowadays criticism on German livestock sector. At the same time, non market actors more and more are key actors within animal welfare politics. Hence, we investigate political power of stakeholder organizations in German livestock policy. Our network based framework consists of two components: First, actors influence policy decisions through informational lobbying. Informational lobbying refers to providing expert knowledge in order to influence decision makers' policy beliefs. Second, the exchange of influence resources and power allows interest groups to influence the policy positions of political agents. We combine both measurements with the Banzhaf power index in order to quantify the power of both, political agents as well as interest groups. How this power affects animal welfare policy is illustrated in the field of piglet castration. Results imply that the agricultural sector as well as animal protection groups have the highest influence on beliefs and that state actors distribute most of the power to the agribusiness sector. This structures leads to a positive evaluation of surgical castration under anaesthesia. On the other hand, immunocastration is evaluated as rather useless. This implies that participatory processes decrease the procedures acceptance.
    Keywords: communicational lobbying,political support,stakeholder influence,farm animal welfare
    Date: 2019
  9. By: Ondrej Schneider
    Abstract: This paper examines effects of political ideology of a governing party on fiscal outcomes, using data from eight Central and Eastern European countries in the 2001-2017 period. The analysis shows that there is a statistically significant effect of conservative governments on fiscal variables, namely they tend to reduce expenditures and improve fiscal balance by 0.4-0.7% of GDP. Conservative governments are found to reduce expenditures on social security and health care, but they tend to increase subsidies. This may be explained by their proximity to business interests that typically benefit from these subsidies. Our result suggest that while conservative governments do tend to reduce public spending and run smaller deficits, their impact on fiscal outcomes is more limited than they often claim.
    Keywords: fiscal policy, political parties, budget deficit, European Union
    JEL: E62 H10 H50 H62
    Date: 2019
  10. By: P. Manasse; G. Moramarco; G. Trigilia
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of political risk on exchange rates. We focus on the Brexit Referendum as it provides a natural experiment where both exchange rate expectations and a time-varying political risk factor can be measured directly. We build a simple portfolio model which predicts that an increase in the Leave probability triggers a depreciation of the British Pound, both on account of exchange rate expectations and of political risk. We estimate the model for multilateral and bilateral British Pound exchange rates. The results confirm the model’s main implications. When we extend the analysis to a portfolio model of multiple currencies, we find that the cross-currencies restrictions implied by the theory are not rejected by our system estimation. Moreover, the joint estimates of the multi-currency model in the presence of time-varying political risk premium are in many cases consistent with the Uncovered Interest Parity.
    JEL: F31 F41 G11 G15
    Date: 2020–02
  11. By: Levi Boxell; Matthew Gentzkow; Jesse M. Shapiro
    Abstract: We measure trends in affective polarization in nine OECD countries over the past four decades. The US experienced the largest increase in polarization over this period. Three countries experienced a smaller increase in polarization. Five countries experienced a decrease in polarization. These findings are most consistent with explanations of polarization based on changes (e.g., changing party composition, growing racial divisions, the emergence of partisan cable news) that are more distinctive to the US, and less consistent with explanations based on changes (e.g., the emergence of the internet, rising economic inequality) that are more universal.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2020–01

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