Institutional Constraints on Profligate Politicians: The Conditional Effect of Partisan Fragmentation on Budget Deficits

The research on the common pool resource problem in public budgeting has looked primarily at the independent effects of the two factors but has not explored the extent to which the interplay between them influences fiscal policy. What Wehner finds in his analysis of panel data from 57 countries from 1975 to 1998 is “consistent evidence that partisan fragmentation in the legislature is associated with higher deficits only when it is not moderated by limits on parliamentary amendment authority.”

Wehner addresses the implications his findings have on policies related to electoral reforms and budget institutions and identifies areas for future research, such as exploring the interaction of the two types of fragmentation within the executive and at different stages of the budget process. In order to pursue these opportunities, data needs to be gathered that will allow for more fine-grained institutional measures in more countries.

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