Intra-Cabinet Politics and Fiscal Governance in Times of Austerity

Published in Political Science Research and Methods, 2020

Recommended citation: Alexander Herzog and Slava Jankin Mikhaylov (2020). "Intra-Cabinet Politics and Fiscal Governance in Times of Austerity." Political Science Research and Methods, 8(3), 409-424.

In the context of recent economic and financial crisis in Europe, questions about the power of the core executive to control fiscal outcomes are more important than ever. Why are some governments more effective in controlling spending while others fall prey to excessive overspending by individual cabinet ministers? We approach this question by lifting the veil of collective cabinet responsibility and focusing on intra-cabinet decision-making around budgetary allocation. Using the contributions of individual cabinet members during budget debates in Ireland, we estimate their positions on a latent dimension that represents their relative levels of support or opposition to the cabinet leadership. We find some evidence that ministers who are close to the finance minister receive a larger budget share, but under worsening macro-economic conditions closeness to the prime minister is a better predictor for budget allocations. Our results highlight potential fragility of the fiscal authority delegation mechanism in adverse economic environment.

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