Policy design and domestic support for international bailouts

Michael M. Bechtel, Jens Hainmueller, Yotam Margalit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Financial bailouts for ailing Eurozone countries face deep and widespread opposition among voters in donor countries, casting major doubts over the political feasibility of further assistance efforts. What is the nature of the opposition and under what conditions can governments obtain broader political support for funding such large-scale, international transfers? This question is addressed by distinguishing theoretically between ‘fundamental’ and ‘contingent’ attitudes. Whereas the former entail complete rejection or embrace of a policy, the latter depend on the specific features of the policy and could shift if those features are altered. Combining unique data from an original survey in Germany – the largest donor country – together with an experiment that varies salient policy dimensions, the analysis indicates that less than a quarter of the public exhibits fundamental opposition to the bailouts. Testing a set of theories on contingent attitudes, particular sensitivity is found to the burden-sharing and cost dimensions of the bailouts. The results imply that the choice of specific features of a rescue package has important consequences for building domestic support for international assistance efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)864-886
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • European Union
  • conjoint analysis
  • economic crisis
  • experiments
  • international redistribution

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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