The use of discretionary spending as an opportunistic motive to win the election

Dewi Darmastuti, Dyah Setyaningrum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This study aims to investigate the use of discretionary spending, especially by incumbents, to win the election and whether incumbents can take more advantage of such spending than the new local government heads. This study also examines the political monitoring effect in suppressing discretionary spending. By using panel regression on 225 local governments during 2013–2016, the results indicate that political motive positively affects discretionary spending proportion ahead of the election. Following the public choice theory that although local government heads act on the interests of voters, their primary motivation is personal interest. Incumbent’s victory does not affect total discretionary spending and the financial assistance expenditure/transfer but has a significant positive effect on grant and social assistance spending. It generally supports Corruption Eradication Commission’s allegations of “returning the favor” is carried out by elected heads in one year following the election. But, it shows that incumbents are more able to utilize grants and social assistance spending than the new local government heads. Political monitoring from the opposition party has proven to have a direct negative effect on discretionary spending proportion. Tracking of the one year after the election should be done to prevent misuse of discretionary spending for incumbent political interests. The results of this study are expected to provide input to regulators to develop more comprehensive regulation, for example, strict sanctions for violations related to accountability for the use of such funds to limit the opportunistic behavior of the local government heads.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Symposia in Economic Theory and Econometrics
PublisherEmerald Group Holdings Ltd.
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameInternational Symposia in Economic Theory and Econometrics
ISSN (Print)1571-0386


  • Discretionary budget
  • Election
  • Grants
  • Incumbent
  • Re-election
  • Social assistance


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