Public Choice

, Volume 161, Issue 1–2, pp 209–232 | Cite as

The impact of within-party and between-party ideological dispersion on fiscal outcomes: evidence from Swiss cantonal parliaments

  • Tjaša Bjedov
  • Simon Lapointe
  • Thierry Madiès


The impact of the fragmentation of executive and legislative bodies on the level and composition of government expenditure is a feature of politics that has attracted considerable attention from economists. However, previous authors have abstracted from two important concepts: ideology and intra-party politics. In this paper, we account for these two phenomena explicitly, and make two main contributions. First, we show that both intra- and inter-party ideological dispersion matter in explaining the level of sub-national public spending. Therefore, it is improper to consider parties as monolithic entities. We also show that ideological dispersion matters especially for current expenditures, and not so much for investment expenditures. To do so, we construct a panel database (2003–2010) comprising data from a survey that quantifies the policy preferences of party members who were candidates in Swiss elections.


Political fragmentation Public spending Political parties Ideology Logrolling 



The authors would like to thank Julien Fiechter for access to data from Smartvote surveys, Mark Schelker for Swiss institutional data, as well as participants at the Sinergia seminar in St. Gallen, at a seminar at the University of Fribourg, three anonymous referees, Roger Couture, and the editor for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tjaša Bjedov
    • 1
    • 2
  • Simon Lapointe
    • 1
  • Thierry Madiès
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  2. 2.CNRS-GATEUniversity of LyonEcullyFrance

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