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Information, polarization and term length in democracy

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  • Schultz, Christian

Abstract

This paper considers term lengths in a representative democracy where the political issue divides the population on the left-right scale. Parties are ideologically different and better informed about the consequences of policies than voters are. A short term length makes the government more accountable, but the re-election incentive leads to policy distortion as the government seeks to manipulate swing voters' beliefs to make its ideology more popular. This creates a trade off: A short term length improves accountability but gives distortions. A short term length is best for swing voters when the uncertainty is large and parties are not very polarized. Partisan voters always prefer a long term length. When politicians learn while in office a long term length becomes more attractive for swing voters.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2008)
Issue (Month): 5-6 (June)
Pages: 1078-1091

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:5-6:p:1078-1091

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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References

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  1. Michael Smart & Daniel Sturm, 2004. "Term limits and electoral accountability," Economic History Working Papers 20283, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  2. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
  3. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 169-179, March.
  5. : Christian Schultz, . "Polarization and Inefficient Policies," Discussion Papers 93-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  6. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  7. Schultz, Christian, 2002. "Policy biases with voters' uncertainty about the economy and the government," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 487-506, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Castanheira, Micael & Nicodème, Gaëtan & Profeta, Paola, 2011. "On the political economics of tax reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 8507, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2011. "A Political Theory of Populism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000281, David K. Levine.
  3. Micael Castanheira De Moura & Gaëtan Nicodème & Paola Profeta, 2012. "On the Political Economics of Tax Reforms: survey and empirical assessment," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/136798, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. Tilman Klumpp, 2011. "Populism, Partisanship, and the Funding of Political Campaigns," Emory Economics 1107, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  5. Iconio Garrì, 2008. "Politician's Reputation and Policy (Un)persistence," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Teoria Economica e Metodi Quantitativi itemq0851, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).

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