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05.2 Program for the Study of Germany and Europe

The Politics of Budget Consolidation in Britain and Germany: The Impact of Blame-Avoidance Opportunities

2005 – Reimut Zohlnhöfer

Abstract

According to parts of the literature, blame avoidance opportunities, i.e. the necessity and applicability of blame avoidance strategies, may differ among countries according to the respective institutional set-ups and between governing parties according to their programmatic orientation. In countries with many veto actors, a strategy of "Institutional Cooperation" among these actors is expected to diffuse blame sufficiently to render other blame avoidance strategies obsolete. In contrast, governments in Westminster democracies should resort to the more unilateral strategies of presentation, policy design and timing. At the same time, parties of the left are expected to have an easier time implementing spending cuts while right parties are less vulnerable when proposing tax increases. Evidence from the politics of budget consolidation in Britain and Germany does not corroborate these hypotheses. Instead, it seems that party competition conditions the effects institutions and the partisan complexion of governments have on the politics of blame avoidance.

 
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