Auction Politics

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  • A political campaign strategy in which the candidates compete to make the most financially attractive promises to voters. The candidates are the metaphorical “bidders,” and the election win is the item “on the block.” The term is commonly used in Irish politics, less so in the United States.

    The historian T. Ryle Dwyer first introduced the notion of auction politics in describing the Irish politician Jack Lynch's 1977 successful campaign strategy. Lynch's Fianna Fail government party was facing a low chance of victory in the 1977 general election. Lynch turned the election into a landslide victory through his issuance of an economic “manifesto.” The manifesto promised voters a series of economic incentives, including the abolishment of car tax and grants to first-time home buyers.

    A less common ...

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