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Government Accountability and Fiscal Discipline: A panel analysis using Swiss data

  • Author(s): Schaltegger, Christoph
  • Torgler, Benno
  • et al.
Abstract

Government accountability through electoral engagement, involvement and participation in the political debate can affect government performance. Using data for the full sample of Swiss cantons over the 1981–2001 period, this paper provides empirical evidence that government accountability is crucial for fiscal discipline. Specifically, in cantons with high levels of government accountability, the level of indebtedness is significantly lower, indicating that accountability supports fiscal discipline. To obtain a useful approximation for government accountability between citizens and their representatives, we use information from direct voter participation in political decisions (initiatives and public referenda) in Swiss state (cantonal) governments. Electoral support of government proposals reveals an important aspect of accountability in a real world setting.

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