SPP Associate Professor Evelyne Hübscher has co-authored an article with Thomas Sattler and Markus Wagner on `Voter Responses to Fiscal Austerity'. The paper is currently open access on the web site of the British Journal of Political Science due to high altmetrics attention scores.
According to the paper, governments have great difficulties designing politically sustainable responses to rising public debt. These difficulties are grounded in a limited understanding of the popular constraints during periods of fiscal pressure. For instance, an influential view claims that fiscal austerity does not entail significant political risk. But this research potentially underestimates the impact of austerity on votes because of strategic selection bias. The article addresses this challenge by conducting survey experiments in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK and Germany. In contrast to previous findings, the results show that a government's re-election chances greatly decrease if it proposes austerity measures. Voters object particularly strongly to spending cuts and, to a lesser extent, to tax increases. While voters also disapprove of fiscal deficits, they weight the costs of austerity policies more than their potential benefits for the fiscal balance. These findings are inconsistent with the policy recommendations of international financial institutions.