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Local and general elections are coming soon in Romania and there is a debate related to a law discussed by the Romanian Parliament: raising pensions by 40%.

The opposition seems to want this to really happen despite the government and specialists arguing about its total lack of fiscal sustainability.

An author calls this situation "fiscal cynicism":

  • the opposition which has a majority in the Parliament wants to force the government to raise the pensions by more than sustainable (some economists estimated that state expenses will be equal to the income if this happens).
  • the Government is forced to delay such measures if approved, thus losing points at the elections that are just around the corner

I am wondering if this type of "fiscal cynicism" is ever an issue in Western countries (Western Europe, US). I was able to find an article using the same expression, but it seems to mean the opposite (too much austerity).

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  • Not an answer, but related: Direct democracy solves this specific issue trivially by having the public vote on it, which (surprisingly to some) is almost certain to reject it. So unless there's at least an option to put such questions to the popular vote, the system does encourage and reward such political gambits.
    – Peter
    Sep 11, 2020 at 8:37
  • I have never heard the phrase but I don't see what's specific about this situation. Parties putting bills forward to force other actors to take a stance is common in many places. Implementing changes whose costs kick in with a delay or are felt later is common too.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 11, 2020 at 8:37
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    Is this different from promising unfunded tax give aways to groups likely to vote? Does the author's "fiscal cynicism" relate only to costs that can be imposed by those not in power, or hoping to gain it shortly thereafter?
    – Jontia
    Sep 11, 2020 at 8:41
  • @Jontia This seems to be a particular case of "unfunded tax giveaways to groups likely to vote". I am not sure about the second question, but I would say "yes".
    – Alexei
    Sep 11, 2020 at 9:15

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If I understand this correctly, this requires a government with only holds a minority in parliament (rare but happens occasionally) and a unified opposition. This looks like exceptional circumstances to me. If the opposition can muster an absolute majority behind a vote that should be enough to topple and replace the government. Presumably there are some specifics in the Romanian case why this doesn't happen but this kind of situation is very rare.

On the other hand it happens quite often that opposition parties make some kind of political proposal without a majority vote behind it. The government will block this proposal but it could still cost them votes in an upcoming election.

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    If the opposition can muster an absolute majority behind a vote that should be enough to topple and replace the government The opposition may be united in a single issue and disunited in anything else. For example in Spain a motion of no confidence requires that an alternative PM is proposed, making it difficult to opposition parties to initiate one even if the current government is in a minority.
    – SJuan76
    Sep 11, 2020 at 21:58

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