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Issue Unbundling via Citizens' initiatives

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  • Besley, Timothy J.
  • Coate, Stephen

Abstract

The role of citizens' intitiatives figures prominantly in contemporary debates on constitutional change. A basic question is why are initiatives necessary in a representative democracy where candidates must already compete for the right to control policy? This Paper offers one answer to this question. In a representative democracy, the bundling of issues, together with the fact that citizens have only one vote, means that policy outcomes on specific issues may diverge far from what the majority of citizens want. In such circumstances, allowing citizens to put legislation directly on the ballot permits the 'unbundling' of these issues, which forces a closer relationship between policy outcomes and popular preferences. To the extent that it is condsidered socially undesirable for outcomes on specific issues to stray too far from what the majority wants, this creates a role for citizens initiatives.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2857.

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Date of creation: Jun 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2857

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Keywords: citizens' initiatives; direct democracy;

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  1. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . ""An Economic Model of Representative Democracy''," CARESS Working Papres 95-02, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  2. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  3. Stephen Coate & Timothy Besley, 2000. "Elected versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Matsusaka, John G & McCarty, Nolan M, 2001. "Political Resource Allocation: Benefits and Costs of Voter Initiatives," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 413-48, October.
  5. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2001. "Lobbying and Welfare in a Representative Democracy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 67-82, January.
  6. Assar Lindbeck & J├Ârgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  7. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-86, April.
  8. Matsusaka, John G, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-71, May.
  9. Pommerehne, Werner W., 1990. "The empirical relevance of comparative institutional analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(2-3), pages 458-469, May.
  10. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
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