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Sheep and their herders: testing the myth of rational voters – a Latvian case study


Author Info

  • Daniel Brou
  • Kirk A. Collins
  • Brent McKenzie


Through the use of a simple behavioural political economy model, we cast doubt on the assumption that voters behave in predictable ways dependent on their expected support for government policies. We show that under certain conditions an unfavourable (i.e. welfare reducing) policy may result, even with well-informed, welfare maximising voters. While true that voter behaviour may align with government policies, this alignment has more to do with a perceived lack of influence, rather than policy support. The case of Latvia's accession to the European Union is used as a case study to evaluate the government's policy in terms of voting behaviour. Both qualitative research by way of focus group sessions and a quantitative research survey are used to develop and test a simple political economy model. Findings indicate that voters evaluate the expected benefits from a policy, and the government's stated position, as separate factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Inderscience Enterprises Ltd in its journal Int. J. of Economics and Business Research.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 103-117

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Handle: RePEc:ids:ijecbr:v:3:y:2011:i:1:p:103-117

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Keywords: political economy; voter behaviour; European Union; EU; membership; rational voters; Latvia; voting; democracy; democratic myths; predictable behaviour; unpredictability; expected support; government policies; unfavourable policies; welfare spending; reductions; well-informed voters; alignment; voter perceptions; influence; accession; member states; qualitative research; focus groups; quantitative research; evaluation; expected benefits; stated positions; economics; business research.;


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