Do progressive goverments undertake different debt burdens? Partisan vs. electoral cycles

  1. García Sánchez, Isabel María
  2. Prado Lorenzo, José Manuel
  3. Cuadrado Ballesteros, Beatriz
Revista de contabilidad = Spanish accounting review: [RC-SAR]

ISSN: 1138-4891

Year of publication: 2011

Volume: 14

Issue: 1

Pages: 29-57

Type: Article

DOI: 10.1016/S1138-4891(11)70021-8 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openDialnet editor

More publications in: Revista de contabilidad = Spanish accounting review: [RC-SAR]


Public debt has traditionally been explained mainly by two political factors: a progressive ideology and the electoral cycle. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how these two factors influence the behavior of Spanish local governments as regards indebtedness, and also how indebtedness is influenced by the interaction of ideology and the electoral cycle. Different dependence models were estimated using panel data methodology based on a sample comprised of Spanish provincial capitals and towns with populations over 50,000, for a total of 148 town councils. The time frame corresponds to the fiscal years 1988 to 2008, inclusive. The results show that in an electoral year all politicians behave opportunistically, giving rise to an important increase in public debt in relation to municipal revenue, although progressive incumbents incur three times more debt than those of the opposite ideology. Moreover, the presence of conservative parties in government has tended to significantly attenuate this behavior in years prior to elections, whereas progressive or left-wing parties have not. It must also be noted that partisan and electoral business cycles have been mitigated since 2002, when the Budgetary Stability Law came into effect, imposing limits on the debt of subnational administrations. The empirical evidence obtained points to the need to perfect internal and external control mechanisms in order to avoid a breakdown in the stability policy and the risk of debt becoming untenable, thus achieving greater budgetary discipline.

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