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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fighting with one hand tied behind the back: political budget cycles in the West German states

  • Author(s): Schneider, Christina J.
  • et al.

Theories of political budget cycles have been contested because scholars find that incumbents can manipulate deficits in the pre-election period only if fiscal transparency is low. I argue that these findings do not generally rule out the possibility of fiscal electioneering. Governments may increase spending on highly visible policies. The composition of the budget serves as a second-best strategy. It increases political support without straining the budget balance. An empirical analysis of the West German states reveals alternative electoral budget strategies and ultimately point to the importance of analyzing how governments choose between alternative fiscal instruments.

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