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Channeling the final Say in Politics

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Abstract

We examine how the final say in a sequence of proposals for local public project provision, financing, and redistribution can be channeled towards socially desirable outcomes, thereby breaking the dictatorial power of the last agenda-setter. Individuals are heterogeneous with some citizens benefiting from the public project (winners) and the rest losing (losers) relative to per-capita costs. Our main insight is that a simple ban on subsidies for the proposal-makers can achieve the purpose whenever the first proposal-maker is a winner and the second proposal-maker is a loser. Such a ban induces project winners to make efficient public project proposals that are however coupled with socially undesirable subsidy schemes. The best possible amendment for project losers is then to match the project proposal and to eliminate all subsidies. We further show that two-round proposal-making constitutes the minimal form of political competition yielding first-best outcomes and that restrictions on tax schemes are socially desirable.

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Paper provided by CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich in its series CER-ETH Economics working paper series with number 12/164.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eth:wpswif:12-164

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Keywords: Voters & Elections; Game Theory ; Social Choice & Welfare;

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  1. Dutta, Bhaskar & Jackson, Matthew O & Le Breton, Michel, 2001. "Strategic Candidacy and Voting Procedures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1013-37, July.
  2. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 2003. "Incomplete Social Contracts," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 38-67, 03.
  3. Jackson, Matthew O. & Moselle, Boaz, 1998. "Coalition and Party Formation in a Legislative Voting Game," Working Papers 1036, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  4. McKelvey, Richard D, 1979. "General Conditions for Global Intransitivities in Formal Voting Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1085-1112, September.
  5. Thomas Romer & Howard Rosenthal, 1978. "Political resource allocation, controlled agendas, and the status quo," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 27-43, December.
  6. McKelvey, Richard D., 1976. "Intransitivities in multidimensional voting models and some implications for agenda control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 472-482, June.
  7. Hans Gersbach, 2009. "Democratic Mechanisms," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1436-1469, December.
  8. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Gasmi, Farid., 1986. "Endogenous Agenda Formation in Three-Person Committees," Working Papers 603, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  9. Diermeier, Daniel & Merlo, Antonio, 2000. "Government Turnover in Parliamentary Democracies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 46-79, September.
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