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Taxation and Left-Wing Redistribution: The Politics of Consumption Tax in Britain and Sweden

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Recent research claims that the link between partisanship and policy is weak and that left-wing governments tax the poor surprisingly heavily. In this article, I argue that leftwing taxation depends on the institutional context, not constraints from unions or overall spending. Using novel data, I demonstrate that the left tax more regressively in countries using proportional electoral systems, and more progressively in majoritarian countries. The political mechanism is evaluated in a comparison of Swedish and British tax policy after WWII. Uncertainty over future influence made the left in Britain wary of consumption tax, while the left in Sweden combined consumption tax with expanded social programs. Political risk shaped the strategies of key actors and helps explain the divergence in tax policy during this period.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2022

This article was made available online on April 21, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Taxation and Left-wing Redistribution: The Politics of Consumption Tax in Britain and Sweden".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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