Who profits from legislative activism? An analysis of Presidential and Prime Ministerial popularity
Politicians are always seeking popularity, and they use several tools to try to influence their approval rate. We investigate the dynamic relationship between French executive politicians’ approval rates and three types of legislative acts (laws, ordonnances, and decrees) that they can use to signal their policy stance. Given the persistent debate over causality between public opinion and policy, our results show that a strong President (in terms of popularity) can rely more on ordonnances without damaging his/her popularity. Moreover, the use of ordonnances also benefits the Prime Minister’s popularity. Decrees are more beneficial to the Prime Minister than to the President. In terms of the agenda, if there is a honeymoon effect, legislative activism does nothing to prevent the fall in popularity at the end of a mandate. A winning strategy is thus to ‘wait and see.’ The results are robust to the inclusion of economic performance indicators, political and institutional factors.
KeywordsPopularity Legislative production Granger causality VAR model France
JEL ClassificationD72 K00
The authors are grateful to Nicolas Gavoille for sharing some data. The usual disclaimer applies.
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