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Gerrit B. Koester, Summary in:

Gerrit B. Koester

The political economy of tax reforms, page 165 - 165

An empirical analysis of new German data

1. Edition 2009, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4131-4, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1609-6 https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845216096

Series: Neue Studien zur Politischen Ökonomie, vol. 5

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165 as the voters were unable to really punish the grand coalition government as both major parties governed together. Furthermore, the change in the vote share of the incumbent government – the grand coalition – increased in 1969 only if we take both coalition partners (CDU/CSU and SPD) into account. If we focus on the CDU/CSU – which was probably held responsible for tax policy as the minister of finance was a member if the CDU/CSU during the grand coalition and the CDU/CSU governed with the FDP for the first year of the legislative period – the vote share decreased in 1969 as well. Third, we see that the relationship of overall tax burden reductions and changes in the vote share was less strong than the relationship in between tax burden increases and changes in the vote share (see Figure 72). In 1983 for example, a reduction of the tax burden went along with a very strong reduction in the vote share. This can be seen as pointing towards the importance of a grievance asymmetry: voters punished tax increases more heavily than they rewarded tax burden reductions. 4.3 Summary What can we conclude based on the findings of our empirical analyses ? First, we found a strong influence of real GDP growth and of tax reforms on vote share changes. The total fiscal effects of tax reforms – which we are able to measure based on our new data-set – were strongly correlated with vote share changes. A combination of real GDP growth and the fiscal effects of tax reforms can explain up to 85% of the vote share changes of the incumbent governments in the ten federal elections analyzed here. Thereby implemented reforms had a slightly stronger influence on vote changes than adopted reforms. Taken together our main results can be seen as a strong indication for the importance of retrospective voting and especially for the influence of tax policy on the voting decision. Second, we found that the average effects of tax policy and macroeconomic development within the whole legislative period before the elections was very strong while there was only a very weak relationship in between changes in the election year and vote share changes. This indicates that voters couldn´t be easily manipulated by policy changes before the elections but took the policy record of a whole legislative period into account. Finally, we found some indication that a grievance asymmetry mattered with respect to tax policy as well. As we have seen, the link between tax burden increases and vote share changes was stronger than the link in between tax burden reductions and vote share increases. However, this finding is less well founded than the first two and would call for further investigation not pursued here. Compared to the ability of other approaches in the literature, which can explain around 30% of the vote change based on economic voting, our result of an explanation of up to 85% of vote share changes just by GDP growth and fiscal effects of tax reforms is exceptionally strong. This speaks as well in favor of an especially important role of tax reforms for electoral outcomes.

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Zusammenfassung

Was bestimmt die Steuerpolitik? Welche Ziele verfolgen die Bundesregierungen bei Steuerreformen? Haben Steuererhöhungen und Steuersenkungen einen Einfluss auf die Wahlergebnisse? Auf der Basis eines neuen Datensatzes zu den fiskalischen Effekten von Steuerreformen im Zeitraum von 1964 bis 2004 zeigt das Werk Muster der Steuerpolitik auf und testet zentrale ökonomische Hypothesen. Dabei zeigt sich, dass normative ökonomische Ansätze kaum einen Erklärungsbeitrag für die zu beobachtende Steuerpolitik leisten können.

Ausgehend von wichtigen polit-ökonomischen Theorien zeigt der Autor, dass die Mehrheitskonstellationen im Bundesrat einen wichtigen Einfluss auf die Steuerpolitik haben, allerdings genau umgekehrt wie von der Blockade-Hypothese behauptet: Steuerreformen sind gemessen an ihren Fiskaleffekten bei gegenläufigen Mehrheiten in Bundestag und Bundesrat häufiger und umfangreicher. Des Weiteren gibt es keine Hinweise darauf, dass die parteipolitische Zusammensetzung der Bundesregierung einen wichtigen Einfluss auf Steuerreformen hat. Wahltaktische Terminierungen von Steuerreformen spielen aber sehr wohl eine wichtige Rolle. Eine Auswertung des Zusammenhangs von Steuerreformen und Wahlergebnissen zeigt allerdings, dass die Versuche der Bundesregierungen, ihre Wiederwahlwahrscheinlichkeit durch Steuersenkungen kurz vor der Wahl zu erhöhen, wenig erfolgreich sind: Nicht nur die Jahre unmittelbar vor den Wahlterminen, sondern die Steuerpolitik in der gesamten Legislaturperiode hat einen Einfluss auf die Bundestagswahlergebnisse der regierenden Parteien.