Autocracy, Elections, and Fiscal Policy: Evidence from Malaysia
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- Pepinsky, T. St Comp Int Dev (2007) 42: 136. doi:10.1007/s12116-007-9006-4
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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.