Opportunistic Political Cycles: Test in a Young Democracy Setting

CEFIR Discussion Paper

Posted: 25 Apr 2003 Last revised: 24 Nov 2014

See all articles by Akhmed Akhmedov

Akhmed Akhmedov

Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR)

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

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Date Written: December 1, 2003


This paper tests the theory of opportunistic cycles in a decade-old democracy, Russia, finds strong evidence of cycles, and provides explanation for why previous literature often found weaker evidence. Using the comprehensive list of Russia's regional elections and regional monthly panel data between 1996 and 2003, we find that: (1) budget cycle is very sizable and short-lived: large expansion and contraction in fiscal spending occur within two months of elections on both sides; (2) the magnitude of the cycle decreases with government transparency, level of regional democracy, and voter awareness; (3) cycle becomes smaller over time; (4) pre-electoral manipulation increases incumbents' chances for re-election. The results confirm theoretical findings that maturity of democracy, transparency, and voter awareness are important in determining the scope for opportunistic cycles. The short length of the cycle explains underestimation of its size by previous literature because of low frequency data used.

Keywords: Opportunistic political cycles, Maturity of democracy, Russia, Fiscal policy, Government transparency

JEL Classification: H72, P35, P16, E32

Suggested Citation

Akhmedov, Akhmed and Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, Opportunistic Political Cycles: Test in a Young Democracy Setting (December 1, 2003). CEFIR Discussion Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=396240 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.396240

Akhmed Akhmedov

Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR) ( email )

47 Nakhimovsky Prospect, Office #720
117418 Moscow
+7 09 5332 4083 (Phone)

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014

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