Hyde and O’Mahony on International Scrutiny and Pre-Electoral Fiscal Manipulation (Journal of Politics)

Abstract: Pre-electoral fiscal manipulation—spending more or taxing less prior to an election—is an important tool that governments possess to enhance their chances for reelection. Existing explanations of pre-electoral fiscal manipulation focus primarily on domestic characteristics. We extend this line of inquiry by examining international influences on governments’ decisions to engage in pre-electoral fiscal manipulation. We find that international scrutiny of the economy and international scrutiny of elections affect pre-electoral fiscal manipulation in cross-cutting ways. Using data from 1990 to 2004 for 94 developing countries, we show that pre-electoral fiscal manipulation is more likely when international election monitors make direct election manipulation more difficult, and it is less likely when governments are subject to international economic scrutiny resulting from an IMF agreement.