This article addresses the question of whether incumbents can buy political support through targeted public spending. Using a regression discontinuity approach which takes advantage of the design of a recent Romanian government program that distributed coupons worth 200 Euros to poor families towards the purchase of a computer, we find that program beneficiaries were significantly more likely to support the parties of the incumbent governing coalition. These effects occurred both through higher political mobilization and through party-switching. The article also analyzes the drivers of such political gains and we find that program beneficiaries did not trust either the central government or the governing parties any more than the control group. Instead, it appears that local governments reaped the benefits of increased trust, and the political support for incumbent parties occurred mostly in towns where the local government was controlled by one of the parties of the national ruling coalition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations