Incumbency and Expectations of Fiscal Rule Compliance: Evidence from Surveys of German Policy Makers
36 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2020 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021
Date Written: 2020
We analyze politicians’ expectations about future compliance with a fiscal rule, and in particular the dependence of the expectations on their role in parliament (opposition vs. incumbent government coalition). We study this in the context of the German debt brake, which became a constitutional provision in 2009 but is binding for the sub-national states from 2020 onwards only. Via a unique survey, we analyze compliance expectations of parliamentarians of all 16 German state parliaments. A strong incumbency effect is identi-fied from parlamentarians who move in and out of government, showing that politicians from the governing coalition are more optimistic than those from the opposition. A nega-tive fiscal shock has little effects on the former, but a strongly negative one on the latter. We offer a theoretical model that is consistent with an increasing incumbency effect over time, as the result of wishful thinking by politicians concerning their reelection chances and a dynamic reputation effect for policymakers when compliance with the fiscal rule is achieved.
Keywords: Fiscal rules, incumbency, fiscal policy, political economy
JEL Classification: H63, H74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation