Autocracy, Elections, and Fiscal Policy: Evidence from Malaysia

  • Thomas Pepinsky


Authoritarian regimes often use fiscal policy to reward political supporters and to punish political opponents. In many authoritarian regimes with political institutions like parties, legislatures, and elections, elections become a focal point for budget expenditures and the distribution of government patronage. A time-series analysis of Malaysian fiscal expenditures from 1967 to 1997 shows that the ruling coalition systematically increases federal government spending before elections. In addition to marshalling private resources to distribute patronage, the Malaysian government manipulates the government’s official position. These findings have important implications for the growing literature on political institutions under autocratic regimes and the politics of patronage and redistribution in the developing world. They also suggest a new empirical domain for existing theories of political business cycles.


Autocracy Elections Fiscal policy Malaysia 



Thanks to Ken Scheve, Zé Cheibub, participants in the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, and several anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions. Part of this research took place while the author was a visiting researcher at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. All views expressed here are solely those of the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science & Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Colorado-BoulderBoulderUSA

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