The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Focusing on Low-Income Countries, we investigate the behavior of fiscal variables during and after elections. The results indicate that during election years, government consumption significantly increases and leads to higher fiscal deficits. During the two years following elections, the fiscal adjustment takes the form of increased revenue mobilization in trade taxes and cuts to government investment, with no significant cuts in government consumption. Using a new dataset on national fiscal rules and IMF programs, we find that both the presence of fiscal rules and IMF programs help dampen the magnitude of the political budget cycle in LICs. We conclude that elections not only imply a macroeconomic cost when they take place but also trigger a painful fiscal adjustment in which public investment is largely sacrificed.