13 Apr 2023 - 14 Apr 2023 All day Online & Room SG1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge



Peter Sloman (University of Cambridge)


  • Wimar Bolhuis (Ecorys/University of Leiden)
  • Lee de Wit and James Ackland (University of Cambridge)
  • Peter Sloman (University of Cambridge)
  • Elin Naurin (University of Gothenburg)
  • Marc Buggeln (Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Anna Killick (University College London)
  • Kristen Heim (University of Stellenbosch)
  • Seán Muller (Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study/University of Edinburgh)


Tax and public spending are central to party competition in many countries and lie at the heart of the classic Downsian model of electoral choice, in which voters seek to maximise their expected utility through a rational evaluation of party programmes. Since the 1980s and 1990s, political parties in the UK and other major democracies have frequently published costings documents alongside their manifestos, and Parliamentary Budget Offices and think-tanks have taken on an increasingly prominent role in analysing party policies. The ‘Chartered Choices’ exercise carried out by the Centraal Planbureau in the Netherlands has been perhaps the most ambitious attempt to integrate economic analysis into the electoral process.

This workshop will bring together political scientists, economists, and contemporary historians to explore how public debates over tax, spending, and borrowing have played out in different electoral contexts since the 1980s. By ranging across disciplinary boundaries and national borders, we hope to map the ‘state of the field’ and to strengthen our understanding of how parties think about tax and spending commitments in the real world. We invite country-specific or comparative papers which discuss the implications of platform costings for party strategy, voting behaviour, democratic theory, or public policy.

Supported by:

CRASSH grey logo

If you have specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.


Day 1

Thursday 13 April 2023

14:00 - 15:15

Welcome, introductory remarks and Paper 1

Wimar Bolhuis (Ecorys/University of Leiden)
‘Party platforms and policy costings in the Netherlands’

15:15 - 15:45


15:45 - 17:15

Papers 2 and 3

Lee de Wit and James Ackland (University of Cambridge)
‘The electoral salience of tax-and-spend: does fiscal policy preference predict UK voters’ party preference?’

Marc Buggeln (Freie Universität Berlin)
‘From squeezing the rich to social envy: German tax policy in the last quarter of the 20th century’

Day 2

Friday 14 April 2023

09:30 - 11:00

Papers 5 and 6

Anna Killick (University College London)
‘Politicians’ respect for economists across the UK, USA, France, Germany and Denmark’

Peter Sloman (University of Cambridge)
‘A fiscal perspective on party strategy: theory and evidence from Australia’

11:00 - 11:15


11:15 - 12:45

Papers 7 and 8

Kristen Heim (University of Stellenbosch)
Did expenditure kill the revenue star? Reflections on Parliaments’ role in taxation policy over time’

Seán Muller (Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study/University of Edinburgh)
‘Fiscal institutions in democratic South Africa’

12:45 - 13:15

Closing discussion

13:15 - 14:00

Catered lunch in the atrium

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk