The politics of redistribution in local government

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This paper deals with the politics of redistribution in local government. Traditionally, it has been assumed that redistributive policies are crucial in electoral competition and party politics, both in national and local political systems. From this perspective, differences in local competition and party systems are essential to an explanation of local redistributive efforts. Peterson (1981), however, claims that redistributive policies are excluded from the local agenda because they impair local economic prosperity. These policies are therefore not conceived as instruments in the vote-maximizing strategies of local political parties. In this paper, hypotheses on the impact of party competition and party politics on local redistribution are formulated and tested on data for 342 Dutch municipalities. The results show that, contrary to what would be expected from Peterson's perspective, municipal redistributive efforts were related to electoral competitiveness and the party system. The proposed model, however, proved to be unsatisfactory in accurately predicting the direction of the effects of these explanatory variables. These results suggest that, rather than abandoning the study of local redistribution as a non-issue in subnational politics, an effort should be made to develop a better theoretical understanding of the ways in which competition and party politics shape these policies.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)323-342
JournalEuropean journal of political research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1993


  • IR-58382

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