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Potrafke, Niklas (2010): Ideology and cultural policy. Research paper series / Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, 49
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Abstract

By examining voting behavior in a referendum on the construction of a concert hall in Germany, I show that political ideology influences cultural policy. The results suggest that resistance to the concert hall was particularly strong in electoral districts in which majorities of citizens vote for the social democrats. By contrast, constituents of rightwing parties voted more in favor of the project. This voting pattern indicates that cultural policy is ideology-induced. The direct-democratic vote against the concert hall is not in line with the voting behavior of the representatives in the city council. My findings thus show that the voting behavior of political representatives may be decoupled from the preferences of their constituents even in closely knit jurisdictions in which the principal-agent relationship between voters and representatives is usually thought to favor the principals. Moreover, this decoupling has been documented for a policy issue that does not require substantial information or specialized knowledge to be evaluated but rather voters’ decisions are based on ideological convictions.