April 24, 2017
12:30pm to 2:00pm

4357 Bunche Hall 



How do international monetary and financial shocks influence domestic politics? Taking advantage of a surprise revaluation of the Swiss franc in early 2015, we examine the policy preferences and voting behavior of individuals particularly exposed to this event in Poland: holders of mortgages denominated in foreign currency. Using original survey data collected prior to the 2015 Polish parliamentary elections, we show that the material economic interests of this group strongly influenced their preferences over proposed policy responses to the shock. Their preference for a generous resolution scheme then translated into distinct voting behavior. Among former government voters, Swiss franc borrowers were more likely to desert the government. The evidence suggests that the PiS used the CHF mortgage issue opportunistically to build a winning electoral coalition that included not only its core populist constituencies, but also a subgroup of voters materially affected by the shock who were otherwise unlikely to support the party. Our analysis demonstrates that international financial shocks can influence domestic politics through multiple channels. For individuals and households with clear, well-defined material interests, such shocks strongly and directly influence policy preferences and voting behavior. At the same time, parties and candidates can also exploit such shocks for broader political effect, using them as focal points to appeal to a larger populist coalition of voters.