Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Misery loves company. Strategies for retrenchment in the era of constrained public finance

  • Alice Cavalieri (a1), Federico Russo (a2) and Luca Verzichelli (a3)

Abstract

The policy agenda literature shows that budget cuts tend to be rarer and less extreme than budget expansions. This article argues that the character of retrenchment policies is shaped by a combination of domestic and international factors, such as budgetary procedures, intra-coalitional conflicts, and the emergence of urgency situations. Building on the findings of several quantitative studies on budgetary changes, we develop two propositions explaining why the necessity to reduce expenditures usually leads to across-the-board cuts. We also hypothesize two mechanisms which can occasionally produce selective outcomes. This article focuses on the last 30 years to observe how the annual package of public finance corrections has impacted on the main categories of public spending. This analysis combines an original measure of the transformative nature of the yearly fiscal packages approved by parliament with process-tracing methodology. The qualitative analysis focuses on three cases of linear cuts and one deviant case of selective cuts. Findings show that the persistence of frictions in the Italian budgetary process is often a basic reason for the introduction of linear cuts, but the logic of urgency triggered by the European external constraint was able to produce a selective outcome.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: a.cavalieri@santannapisa.it

References

Hide All
Andresen, H (2012) The case for regularity in mechanistic causal explanation. Synthese 189(3): 415432.
Baldini, G Bull, AC (eds) (2009) Politica in Italia: i fatti dell’anno e le interpretazioni. Bologna: Il mulino.
Baumgartner, FR, Carammia, M, Epp, DA, Noble, B, Rey, B Yildirim, TM (2017) Budgetary change in authoritarian and democratic regimes. Journal of European Public Policy 24(6): 792808.
Beach, D (2017) Process-Tracing Methods in Social Science. Oxford Research Encyclopedias of Politics. USA: Oxford University Press.
Beach, D Rohlfing, I (2018) Integrating cross-case analyses and process tracing in set-theoretic research: strategies and parameters of debate. Sociological Methods & Research 47(1): 336.
Bennett, A Checkel, JT (eds) (2014) Process Tracing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Breunig, C (2006) The more things change, the more things stay the same: a comparative analysis of budget punctuations. Journal of European Public Policy 13(7): 10691085.
Breunig, C (2011) Reduction, stasis, and expansion of budgets in advanced democracies. Comparative Political Studies 44(8): 10601088.
Brumby, J (2007) Improving allocative efficiency, in M Robinson (ed.). Performace Budgeting. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 144166.
Cioffi, JW Dubin, KA (2016) Commandeering crisis: partisan labor repression in Spain under the Guise of economic reform. Politics & Society 44(3): 423453.
Cotta, M Verzichelli, L (2007) Political Institutions in Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Council of the European Union (2011) Eurosummit statement, Brussels, 26 October.
Damonte, A (2013) Verso un governo migliore della spesa? Perché la politica di bilancio italiana è rimasta «irresponsabile», e perché le ultime riforme potrebbero fare davvero la differenza. Italian Public Policies Review 3, 317342.
Daniels, P (1994) Italy and the Maastricht treaty, in S Hellman and G Pasquino (eds). Italian Politics: A Review, Vol. 8 New York: St. Martin Press, pp. 178191.
Della, Sala V (1988) The Italian budgetary process: Political and institutional constraints. West European Politics 11(3): 110125.
Della Sala, V (1997) Hollowing out and hardening the State: European integration and the Italian economy. West European Politics 20(1): 1433.
Dukelow, F (2015) Pushing against an open door’: Reinforcing the neo-liberal policy paradigm in Ireland and the impact of EU intrusion. Comparative European Politics 13(1): 93111.
Dyson, K Featherstone, K (1996) Italy and EMU as a “Vincolo Esterno”: empowering the technocrats, transforming the state. South European Society and Politics 1(2): 272299.
European Central Bank (2011) Introductory statement to the press conference (with Q&A), Frankfurt am Main, 4 August.
Falletti, T Lynch, JF (2009) Context and causal mechanisms in political analysis. Comparative Political Studies 42(9): 11431166.
Fusaro, C (2012) La formazione del governo Monti. Quaderni Costituzionali 32(3): 391395.
George, AL Bennett, A (2005) Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Gerring, J (2010) Causal mechanisms: yes, but …’. Comparative Political Studies 43(11): 14991526.
Hallerberg, M (2004) Domestic Budgets in a United Europe: Fiscal Governance from the End of Bretton Woods to EMU. Itaha: Cornell University Press.
Hallerberg, M, Strauch, R Hagen, JV (2007) The design of fiscal rules and forms of governance in European Union countries. European Journal of Political Economy 23(2): 338359.
Hick, R (2017) The Troika gave Ireland more autonomy over social security cuts than is commonly recognised. LSE European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) Blog.
Jones, E (2012) Italy’s Sovereign debt crisis. Survival 54(1): 83110.
Jones, BD Baumgartner, FR (2005) The Politics of Attention: How Government Prioritizes Problems. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jones, BD, Baumgartner, FR, Breunig, C, Wlezien, C, Soroka, S, Foucault, M, François, A, Green-Pedersen, C, Koski, C, John, P, Mortensen, PB, Varone, F Walgrave, S (2009) A general empirical law of public budgets: a comparative analysis. American Journal of Political Science 53(4): 855873.
Kahneman, D Tversky, A (1979) Prospect theory: an analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica 47(2): 263292.
Krause, P (2015) Overcoming incrementalism: budget reforms and budget allocations in Chile. Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Working paper 415.
Kurki, M (2008) Causation in International Relations: Reclaiming Causal Analysis, (Vol. 108) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lieberman, ES (2005) Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research. American Political Science Review 99(7): 435452.
Lupo, N Piccirilli, G (2017) Conclusion: ‘Silent’ constitutional transformations: the Italian way of adapting to the European Union. The Italian Parliament in the European Union, Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp. 317333.
Mahoney, J (2015) Process tracing and historical explanation. Security Studies 24(2): 200218.
Marangoni, F Verzichelli, L (2014) From Letta to Renzi: preliminary data concerning the composition of the new Cabinet and the new executive’s programme (with an appendix concerning the legislative activity of the Letta government). Contemporary Italian Politics 6(2): 178190.
Morlino, L (2011) Changes for Democracy: Actors, Structures, Processes. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Moschella, M (2017) When some are more equal than others: national parliaments and intergovernmental bailout negotiations in the Eurozone. Government and Opposition 52(2): 239265.
Moury, C Standring, A (2015) Aren’t there any alternatives? Power and discourse in Portuguese Austerity politics. Paper presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, EUA.
Padgett, JF (1980) Bounded rationality in budgetary research. American Political Science Review 74(2): 354372.
Padgett, JF (1981) Hierarchy and ecological control in federal budgetary decision making. American Journal of Sociology 87(1): 75129.
Pavolini, E, León, M, Guillénc, AM Ascoli, U (2015) From austerity to permanent strain? The EU and welfare state reform in Italy and Spain. Comparative European Politics 13(1): 5676.
Quaglia, L Radaelli, C (2007) Italian politics and the European Union: a tale of two research designs. West European Politics 20(1): 1433.
Radaelli, C (2002) The Italian state and the Euro: institutions, discourse and policy regime, in K Dyson (ed.). European States and the Euro. Europeanization, Variation and Convergence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 212237.
Sacchi, S (2015) Conditionality by other means: EU involvement in Italy’s structural reforms in the sovereign debt crisis. Comparative European Politics 13(1): 7792.
Verzichelli, L (1999) La politica di bilancio. Bologna: Il Mulino.
Weingast, BR, Shepsle, KA Johnsen, C (1981) The political economy of benefits and costs: a neoclassical approach to distributive politics. Journal of Political Economy 89(4): 642664.
Wildavsky, AB (1986) Budgeting: A Comparative Theory of the Budgeting Process. New Brunsvick: Transaction Publisher.

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed