Electoral Competitiveness, Tax Bargaining and Political Incentives in Developing Countries: Evidence from Political Budget Cycles Affecting Taxation

Authors: Wilson Prichard
Publisher: Cambridge Core
Date: April 2016

Abstract:

British Journal of Political Science Volume 48, Issue 2

Studies of political budget cycles in developing countries have generally sought to inform understanding of short-term fiscal dynamics, but can also offer unique insight into broader political dynamics in developing countries. This article correspondingly employs markedly improved data in order to study the impact of elections on tax collection, and draw broader lessons. It shows that while elections as a group have had no significant effect on tax collection, the subset of competitive elections has had a significant negative impact on pre-election tax collection; while this effect appears to be largest where incumbents are particularly unpopular. This provides powerful evidence that the impact of elections on political incentives in developing countries is conditioned by the existence of an electorally competitive opposition, while offering preliminary evidence that popular resistance to taxation by unpopular governments may be an important means by which taxpayers may generate pressure for improved governance.