Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 359–370 | Cite as

A Theoretical Basis for the Consideration of Spending Thresholds in the Analysis of Fiscal Referendums

  • Marc-Jean Martin


This paper concerns the political economy of budget balances and focuses on fiscal referendums. It specifically suggests – on the basis of theoretical arguments –that any analysis of fiscal referendums must take their spending thresholds into account. Thus, it claims that mandatory fiscal referendums can impose greater constraints than optional fiscal referendums. In conclusion, various recommendations based on this observation are proposed.


analysis of collective decision-making state and local budget and expenditure political economy budget systems referendum fiscal policy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alesina, A., Perotti, R. 1995“The Political Economy of Budget Deficits”International Monetary Fund Staff Papers42131Google Scholar
  2. Alesina, A., Perotti, R. 1999Budget Deficits and Budget InstitutionsPoterba, J. M.von Hagen, J. eds. Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal PerformancePress for NBER Chicago 1336Google Scholar
  3. Bails, D., Tieslau, M.A. 2000“The Impact of Fiscal Constitutions on State and Local Expenditures”The Cato Journal2025577Google Scholar
  4. Bohn, H., and Inman, R. (1996) “Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States”. NBER Working paper No. 5533.Google Scholar
  5. Bowles, S. 1998“Endogenous Preferences : The Cultural Consequences of Markets and other Economic Institutions”Journal of Economic Literature3675111Google Scholar
  6. Drazen, A. 2000Political Economy in MacroeconomicsPriceton UniversityPriceton New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  7. Feld, L.P., Kirchgässner, G. 2001“The Political Economy of Direct Legislation: Direct Democracy and Local Decision Making”Economic Policy3332967Google Scholar
  8. Feld, L. P., and Matsusaka, J. G. (2000) “Budget Referendums and Government Spending : Evidence from Swiss Cantons”. CESifo Working paper Series No. 323.Google Scholar
  9. Feld, L. P., Matsusaka, J. G. 2003“Budget Referendums and Government Spending: Evidence From Swiss Cantons”Journal of Public Economics8727032724Google Scholar
  10. vonHagen, J., Harden, I. 1994“Towards Greater Fiscal Discipline: National Budget Processes and Fiscal Performance”European Economy Reports and Studies3311418Google Scholar
  11. Holcombe, R. G. 1995An Economic Analysis of DemocracySouthern Illinois University PressCarbonaleGoogle Scholar
  12. Kiewiet, D.R., Szakaly, K. 1996“Constitutional Limitations on Borrowing : An Analysis of State Bonded Indebtednes”Journal of Law and Economics and Organisation126297Google Scholar
  13. Kirchgässner, G. 2002The Effects of Fiscal Institutions on Public Finance: A Survey of the Empirical Evidence”Winer, S. L.Shibata, H. eds. Political Economy and Public FinanceEdward ElgardCheltenham145177Google Scholar
  14. Kriesi, H. 1995Le système politique suisseEconomicaParis Google Scholar
  15. Matsusaka, J.G. 2000“Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative in the First Half of the Twentieth Century”Journal of Law & Economics4361950Google Scholar
  16. Niskanen, W. A. ,Jr. 1971Bureaucracy and Representative GovernmentAldine-AthertonChicagoGoogle Scholar
  17. Novaresi, N. 2001Discipline budgétaire : Etude de l’influence du référendum financier et des règles d’équilibre budgétaire sur les finances publiques des 26 cantons suissesUniversité de FribourgFribourgGoogle Scholar
  18. Poterba, J. 1996“Budget Institutions and Fiscal Policy in the U.SStates”. American Economic Review86395400Google Scholar
  19. Poterba, J. 1997Do Budget Rules Work?Auerbach, A. J. eds. Fiscal PolicyMIT PressMassachusetts53100Google Scholar
  20. Poterba, J.M.von Hagen, J. eds. 1999Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal PerformancePress for NBERChicagoGoogle Scholar
  21. Sciarini, P., Nicolet, S., Fischer, A. 2002“L’impact de l’internationalisation sur les processus de décision en Suisse: Une analyse quantitative des actes législatifs 1995–1999”Revue suisse de science politique8134Google Scholar
  22. Shaviro, D. 1997Do deficits matter? University of Chicago PressChicagoGoogle Scholar
  23. Stutzer, A., Frey, B.S. 2001“Outcome, Process and Power in Direct Democracy”Public Choice10727193Google Scholar
  24. Tanzi, V., Schuknecht, L. 2000Public Spending in the 20th [twentieth] Century: A Global PerspectiveUniversity PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration – IDHEAPUniversity of LausanneChavannes-LausanneSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations