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According to partisan theories of macroeconomic policy, left-wing parties are more concerned with unemployment while right-wing parties tend to weigh the costs of inflation higher. An implication of partisan theories is that partisan policy differences should depend on the state of the economy, with left-wing governments conducting relatively more expansive policies during recessions. We test whether left-wing governments are more favourably inclined towards countercyclical fiscal policies than their right-wing counterparts using a panel data set of 18 OECD countries from 1980 to 1992. The results are supportive of partisan theories. The structural deficit is significantly higher under left-wing governments when unemployment is high or rising while the ideology of the government party (parties) has no significant impact on the structural deficit when unemployment is low or falling.