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Party Discipline and Universalism: The Case of Budgeting in Berlin

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Work on the US Congress has found that when partisan differences are strong, legislation tends to be passed by minimum winning coalitions. When partisanship is weak, Congress and its committees often rely on the norm of universalism or 'giving something to everyone' to pass legislation. Universalism in legislative voting is expected to lead to bloated or inefficient public spending. This article investigates whether these hypotheses about party discipline and universalism hold true outside the United States. A comparison of fiscal decision-making in local legislatures in eastern Berlin, where newly created political parties are weakly disciplined, and in western Berlin, where established party caucuses are highly disciplined, finds this is indeed the case. The article concludes by raising questions for future research on universalism and other post-communist legislatures.
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Keywords: Germany; Party discipline; pork barrel; post-communist legislatures; universalism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-12-01

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