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Political budget cycles and social security budget increases in the Republic of Ireland, 1923-2005

Cousins, Mel (2007): Political budget cycles and social security budget increases in the Republic of Ireland, 1923-2005.

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Abstract

This paper examines social security increases in Ireland as a case study of the existence of political budget cycles in European countries. Ireland is an appropriate country to examine, first because it has a system of proportional representation and some studies suggest that proportional electoral systems are associated with expansions of welfare spending both before and after elections. Second, it is generally recognised that Irish political parties occupy the middle ground in terms of political ideology. Again studies would suggest that an absence of a strong ideological commitment to particular policies may make political budget cycles more likely. Utilising the distinctive nature of the public expenditure process in relation to welfare budget increases, this article examines the issue of whether or not a political budget cycle can be seen in Ireland in relation to social security expenditure. It draws a number of conclusions as to the existence and incidence of political budget cycles in an Irish context and also looks at whether political budget cycles have succeeded in their apparent objective i.e. securing election for the relevant political party.

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