The politics of economic crisis

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  • example of the Empirical Implications of TheoreticalModels (EITM) approach to studying politics Granato etal use a formal model to derive testable propositions for

    national examinations of the political and institutionaldeterminants of consumer condence. Their study coversCanada, France, Germany, and theUK from themid-1970s tothe beginning of the present economic crisis. They nd thatwhile there are shared patterns of variance in consumer

    crisis among British citizens. They show that only onequarter of British citizens blamed the government for theeconomic crisis while nearly two-thirds of British citizens

    more likely to blame the banks and investors.In another examination of the impact of the current

    economic crisis on politics in the UK, Through Thickand Thin? The dynamics of government support acrossincome groups economic crises, Harvey D. Palmer and Guy

    Electoral Studies 30 (2011) 387388

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

    al S

    elsetheir empirical models of ination expectations in theUnited States between 1978 and 2000.

    In The Heterogeneity of Consumer Sentiment in anIncreasingly Homogenous Global Economy Raymond M.Duch and Paul M. Kellstedt provide one of the rst cross-

    blamed banks and investment companies. They furtherdemonstrate that partisanship and political sophisticationplayed a substantial role in the determination of blamewithConservative Partisans more likely to blame the currentLabour governmentwhile the politically sophisticatedwerePreface

    The politics of economic crisis

    This collection of papers was rst presented together ata conference titled The Politics of Economic Crisis inEurope and Beyond which was held at Texas A&M fromApril 30 to May 2, 2009. This conference was jointly hostedby the European Union Center and the Department ofPolitical Sciences Program in the Cross-National Study ofPolitics. Given the importance of the economic crisis, itseemed timely to bring together a group of scholars toexplore the impact of economic decline on public opinionand elections in a wide range of national settings and froma variety of theoretical and empirical perspectives. Thehosts and participants were particularly happy with theway that these papers together provided a broad picture ofthe ways in which politics around the world is impacted byperiods of economic crisis.

    A logical starting point in the study of the impact ofeconomics on politics, but one that is often overlooked ortaken for granted, is the way in which citizens and elitesform their evaluations of what is going on in the economy.Our collection of papers begins with two essays on thissubject. In Modeling and Testing the Diffusions of Expec-tations: An EITM Approach, Jim Granato, Melody Lo, andM.C. Sony Wong examine the interplay between theeconomic expectations of the public and policymakers,nding a boomerang effect which can lead to policymakersmaking inaccurate forecasts of economic conditions. Theseinaccurate forecasts lead to erroneous policies which thenlead to economic instability. This article is an excellent


    journal homepage: www.0261-3794/$ see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2010.11.009condence across these four nations, there are also uniqueelements which are driven by the national politics in eachnation as well.

    Even when citizens are well-able to assess the currentstate of their nations economy, these evaluations will notalways translate directly into their calculations of politicalsupport. We have four very different papers that explorethe determinants of the relationship between economicsand politics in this volume. In The Price of PersonalizingPolitics: Political Distrust and Economic Performance inLatin America,19962006, Ashley Ross andMaria Escobar-Lemmon explore the conditions under which politicalparties will and will not be linked to economic outcomesthrough the partyizing of electoral rules. They show thatwhen electoral rules are more personalizing than par-tyizing, times of poor economic performance lead todeclines in political trust. This article makes two importantand interrelated points that rules matter for determiningpolitical responsibility and obscured political responsibilitycan lead to destabilizing declines in political trust duringeconomic crises.

    By anymeasure, the electoral rules of the UK and Canadaare partyizing. But, our next three papers show that evenwithin systems such as this the relationship betweeneconomics and politics is not simple and straightforward. InPublic Opinion, Party Messages, and Responsibility for theFinancial Crisis in Britain, Timothy Hellwig and Eva Coffeyexamine the assignment of blame for the current economic


    vier .com/locate/e lectstud

  • D. Whitten look at the political reactions across differentincome groups to the worsening economic conditions overthe period from 2004 to 2009. They nd that differentincome groups reacted quite differently in translating bothobjective and subjective indicators of the economic crisis intosupport for the Labour government. While lower-incomeindividuals reacted more strongly to increases in unem-ployment, middle and higher income individuals reactedmore strongly to ination. While the impact of subjectiveevaluations was strong and signicant for higher- andmiddle-income individuals, it was statistically insignicantfor lower-income individuals. Together these results providemixed evidence for an emerging debate about the possibilitythat aggregate-level economic ndings might be driven bypartisan rationalizations.

    Harold D. Clarke, Allan Kornberg, and Thomas J. Scottoexamine the role of voters assessments of competence in

    US, positive emotional responses to Obama and attitudes ofracial resentment also determined vote choice. Thisconuence of factors produced a strong hand, playedwell.

    In Shocks and Oscillations: the Political Economy ofHungary, Mary Stegmaier and Michael S. Lewis-Beckprovide a rare across-time examination of the relationshipbetween economics and politics in a new democracy. Theirstudy of monthly support for the Hungarian Socialist Partyfrom 2002 to 2009 demonstrates that economic voting isalive and well in this setting. They show that the strongrelationship between prospective national economic eval-uations and support for the Hungarian Socialists is robustacross a wide range of specications that account for thedifferent events that occurred during this rather turbulentperiod of Hungarian politics.

    As we write this introduction, there is a widespreadperception that worst of the unprecedented nancial crisis

    Electoral Regimes and Crisis Recovery in Argentina andMexico. They reverse the causal arrow examined by others

    Preface / Electoral Studies 30 (2011) 387388388managing in the economy in Valence Politics and theEconomy: Electoral Choice in Canada, 2008. They showthat although Canadian voters widely thought that theeconomy was in poor shape in 2008, opposition partiesfailed to capitalize on the opportunity that this presented.In fact, Clarke et al. assert that incumbent Prime MinisterStephen Harper was able to absorb attacks by the opposi-tion over poor economic performance and perform a featof political judo because of voters perceptions of hisstrength as an economic manager relative to the leaders ofthe opposition parties. This article suggests that students ofeconomic voting need to consider not just the state of theeconomy but also assessments of the capabilities of bothgoverning and opposition parties when they model theimpact of economic conditions on elections.

    Candidate characteristics also played a role in deter-mining victory in the 2008 US Presidential election. In YesWe Can! Valence Politics and Economic Choice in America,2008, Clarke, Kornberg, Scotto, Reier, Sanders, StewartandWhiteley consider theway inwhich voters perceptionsof candidates and the competency of parties determineoutcomes. As in Canada, the economy became an increas-ingly salient issue during the campaign while voters be-came increasingly convinced the Democrats were betterable to handle this issue. But, in this paper they also pushscholars to consider how other explanations can supple-ment, rather than be subsumed, by valence politics. In theto explain why some parts of a country may seem torecover faster than others. Where a competitive multi-party electoral environment has been established,economic recovery in Mexico and Argentina proceededmuch faster than it did in either one-party dominant orauthoritarian regions.

    Overall, the papers assembled in the volume reinforcesomething scholars have long known, economic shocks andcrises have political consequences. However, all of thesepapers also make a new contribution by identifying theimportant ways in which the interrelationships betweeneconomic crises and politics are shaped by political insti-tutions, public attitudes, and electoral rules.

    Maria Escobar-Lemmon*, Guy D. WhittenTexas A&M University, USA Corresponding author.

    E-mail address: Escobar-Lemmon).that began in 2008 has passed. It will, however, be sometime before we can know the full impact that this crisis willhave on politics around the world. Jonathan Hiskey, MasonMoseley, and Jed Goldberg provide a glimpse at the ways inwhich economic crises impact politics in Subnational

    The politics of economic crisis