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Parties, Institutions and the Politics of Law and Order: How Political Institutions and Partisan Ideologies Shape Law-and-Order Spending in Twenty Western Industrialized Countries

  • Georg Wenzelburger

Although the politics of law and order are currently a major issue of debate among criminologists, comparative public policy research has largely neglected it. This article fills that gap by bringing together criminological and public policy theories, and by examining law-and-order policies in twenty Western industrialized countries. It adds to the existing literature in two important ways: it provides a straightforward quantitative test of the existing criminological explanations of law-and-order policies using public spending as the dependent variable; and it shows that governments’ partisan ideology matters for law-and-order policies. Government ideology influences how much countries spend on public order and safety, but the effect depends on the budgetary room for manœuvre and the strength of institutional barriers.

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Department of Political Science, University of Freiburg (email Earlier versions of this contribution have been presented at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, and at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops 2013, Mainz. Many thanks for all comments, especially to the reviewers and the Editor for their helpful suggestions. The research presented in this article has been supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG). Online appendices are available at

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