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Working Paper
Fiscal Federalism
Albert Solé

2005/02: The effects of party competition on budget outcomes: Empirical evidence from local governments in Spain

This paper investigates the link between local budget outcomes and the intensity of party competition, measured as the margin of victory obtained by the incumbent in the previous local election (i.e. the difference between the vote share and 50%). Two competing hypotheses are tested in the paper. On the one hand, the Leviathan government hypothesis suggests that the lower the intensity of party competition is, the greater is the increase in the size of the local public sector, irrespective of the ideology of the party in power. On the other hand, the Partisan government hypothesis suggests that the incumbent will find it easier to advance its platform when intensity of competition is low (i.e., parties on the left/right will increase/decrease the size of the local public sector when the intensity of the challenge from the opposition is low). These hypotheses are tested with information on spending, own revenues and deficit for more than 500 Spanish local governments over 8 years (1992-1999), and information on the results of two local electoral contests (1991 and 1995). The evidence favors the Partisan hypothesis over the Leviathan one.

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