Honeymoon in the crisis: A comparative analysis of the strategic timing of austerity policies and their effect on government popularity in three countries

Author (Person) ,
Series Title
Series Details Vol.15, No.6, October 2017, p991–1015
Publication Date October 2017
ISSN 1472-4790
Content Type


Research on unpopular policies such as welfare-state cutbacks has so far shied away from an in-depth study of the complex interrelations between the occurrence and timing of austerity measures and the evolution of popular support. This study aims to take a first step into this field by means of a systematic comparison between three governments that enacted a number of politically risky policies that touched on the welfare state during the financial and economic crisis: the cabinets of Spain led by Rajoy, of the United Kingdom with Prime Minister Cameron and of Ireland led by Kenny.

We add to the existing literature by (i) examining the timing and the occurrence of austerity measures and by (ii) investigating the link between these policies and government popularity measured by opinion polls. Our analysis supports the idea of a strategic timing of harsh retrenchment policies in terms of front-loading policies. Moreover, we find clear evidence for a honeymoon period during which government popularity seems to be immune to even very tough cutbacks. Finally, we find that strategic timing is less important under conditions in which the clarity of responsibility is blurred.

Source Link http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/cep.2016.1
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