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Citizen Restraints on “Leviathan” Government: Transition Politics in Bulgaria

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  • Kenneth Koford
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    Abstract

    Standard theories of government in transition countries (Olson, M., Jr., 1995. Why the Transition from Communism Is So Difficult. Eastern Economic Journal 21, 437-462.) regard politicians and bureaucracies as “bandits” who extract the maximum resources from the public. Extraction is limited when the bandit expects to maintain power for a longer period of time and when the public can resist. When “bandits” try to gain wealth quickly and then leave, it is hard for them to work together – they become “disorganized roving bandits”. In the transition, the public begins to act together to restrain the ability of the government to extract rents, changing the constraint faced by “bandits”. The paper uses these principles to analyze the politics of transition in Bulgaria. While some political actors extracted rents for their personal use, others followed traditional authoritarian principles, producing the leader’s idea of the public good – a concept of government as Leviathan. Four episodes of transition policy are considered. In each, the government followed policies that led to its collapse under citizen resistance. Either governments were too “disorganized” to carry out utility-maximizing policies, or they underestimated the willingness of the public to resist their policies.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute in its journal Economic Studies.

    Volume (Year): (2000)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 30-62

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    Handle: RePEc:bas:econst:y:2000:i:3:p:30-62

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    References

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    1. Becker, Gary S., 1985. "Public policies, pressure groups, and dead weight costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 329-347, December.
    2. Michael L Wyzan, 1998. "The Political Economy of Bulgaria's Peculiar Post-Communist Business Cycle*," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 40(1), pages 5-42, April.
    3. David D. Li, 1998. "Changing Incentives of the Chinese Bureaucracy," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 130, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
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    6. Coughlin, Peter J & Mueller, Dennis C & Murrell, Peter, 1990. "Electoral Politics, Interest Groups, and the Size of Government," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 682-705, October.
    7. Schnytzer, Adi & Sustersic, Janez, 1998. " Why Join the Party in a One-Party System?: Popularity versus Political Exchange," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1-2), pages 117-34, January.
    8. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 6355.
    9. Li, David D, 1998. "Changing Incentives of the Chinese Bureaucracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 393-97, May.
    10. Steven Rosefielde, 1999. "Russia's Warped Transition: The Destructive Consequences of Ethically Unconstrained Utility Seeking," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 459-476, Fall.
    11. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
    12. Koford, Kenneth, 1993. " The Median and the Competitive Equilibrium in One Dimension," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(3), pages 273-88, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Berlemann, Michael & Nenovsky, Nikolay, 2003. "Lending of first versus lending of last resort: The Bulgarian financial crisis of 1996/1997," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 11/03, Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:wii:bpaper:bowp:056 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Hillman, Arye L. & Ursprung, Heinrich W., 2000. "Political culture and economic decline," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 189-213, June.

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