International Scrutiny and Pre-Electoral Fiscal Manipulation in Developing Countries
The Journal of Politics, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 690-704
Posted: 9 May 2008 Last revised: 20 Dec 2011
Date Written: July 1, 2010
Pre-electoral fiscal manipulation - spending more or taxing less prior to an election - is an important tool that governments may use to enhance their chances for reelection. This article examines how international political scrutiny (in the form of international election monitoring) and international economic scrutiny (in the form of IMF agreements) constrain governments' decisions to engage in pre-electoral fiscal manipulation. Using data from 1990-2004 on fiscal manipulation, competitive elections, IMF agreements, and international election monitoring, the evidence suggests strong support for the argument that international scrutiny constrains government decision making; pre-electoral fiscal manipulation is most likely when incumbents are subject to international political scrutiny from election monitors, but are not subject to international economic scrutiny resulting from an IMF agreement. The results are robust to alternative specifications, and suggest that leaders of developing countries are more constrained in their policy choices than suggested by the existing literature.
Keywords: Pre-electoral fiscal manipulation, election observation, elections in developing countries
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