Political Statement Cycle
55 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2018 Last revised: 18 Feb 2020
Date Written: September 18, 2018
Elected politicians may engage in opportunistic behavior for private benefits, which is a central problem in democratic societies. While re-election incentives can mitigate this problem, they may also induce words without actions: politicians pander to voters right before elections by proposing attractive policies but without actually implementing them. Using the minutes from assembly meetings, we find that politicians' statements follow election cycles: in election years, politicians temporarily change their statements (e.g., increasing amounts of money specified) during the budget-making process, and their contents become less consistent with the realized budget. The effects are larger for politicians whose previous electoral victories were narrower and these changes are associated with a higher probability of being re-elected. We find little evidence that politicians put more efforts to realize their policies when re-election incentives increase. These results imply a failure of the delegation system between voters and politicians, a key element of representative democracy.
Keywords: Re-election Incentives, Machine Learning, Minutes of Assembly, Political Budget Cycle
JEL Classification: D72, H1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation