The Political Consequences of Economic Shocks. Evidence from Poland
CIS Working Paper No.97
39 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2018
Date Written: January 31, 2018
How do economic shocks influence domestic politics? We take advantage of a surprise revaluation of the Swiss franc in early 2015 to identify the Polish citizens with clear and direct economic exposure: those repaying mortgages denominated in Swiss francs. Using original survey data collected just prior to the 2015 Polish parliamentary elections and comparing current with past foreign exchange borrowers, we show that individuals directly exposed to the shock were much more likely to demand government support. Those with no exposure to the shock were less likely to express an opinion on the matter. Current borrowers’ preferences for a generous resolution scheme translated into distinct voting behavior. Among former government voters, Swiss franc borrowers were more likely to desert the government and vote for the largest opposition party, the PiS, which had promised the most generous bailout plan. The evidence suggests that the PiS was able to use the franc shock to expand its electoral coalition beyond its core voters to include those directly affected by the franc shock, a subgroup otherwise unlikely to support the PiS. Simulation results indicate that, absent the franc shock, the PiS is unlikely to have won a parliamentary majority.
Keywords: political behavior, party politics, globalization, economic voting, exchange rates, Poland, elections, populism
JEL Classification: F50, F60, F31, H12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation