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Fixing the Quorum: Representation versus Abstention

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  • Sanne Zwart
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    Abstract

    The majority of the participating voters in referenda does not necessarily reflect the majority of the whole population since voters can abstain. This paper shows that a quorum exists for which the outcome of the referendum coincides with the population preference. However, a second equilibrium can exist in which the proposal is always rejected. When insu±cient information makes the optimal quorum unknown, it is in general more harmful to set the quorum too high than too low. Robustness of the results is analyzed by allowing pressure groups to encourage or discourage participation after the quorum is set.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2007/07.

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    Date of creation: 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2007/07

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    Keywords: Electoral engineering; quorum; referendum; voting/not-voting decision; voting rules;

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    1. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
    2. Fort, Rodney & Bunn, Douglas N, 1998. " Whether One Votes and How One Votes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 51-62, April.
    3. Marco A. Haan & Peter Kooreman, 2003. "How majorities can lose the election Another voting paradox," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 509-522, 06.
    4. John Ashworth & Benny Geys & Bruno Heyndels, 2006. "Everyone likes a winner: An empirical test of the effect of electoral closeness on turnout in a context of expressive voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 383-405, September.
    5. John Matsusaka, 2005. "The eclipse of legislatures: Direct democracy in the 21st century," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 157-177, July.
    6. MoshÊ Machover & Dan S. Felsenthal, 1997. "Ternary Voting Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 335-351.
    7. Helios Herrera & Andrea Mattozzi, 2010. "Quorum and Turnout in Referenda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 838-871, 06.
    8. Hannu Nurmi, 1998. "Voting paradoxes and referenda," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 333-350.
    9. Keith Jakee & Guang-Zhen Sun, 2006. "Is compulsory voting more democratic?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 61-75, October.
    10. Rodney Fort & Douglas Bunn, 1998. "Whether one votes and how one votes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 51-62, April.
    11. David P. Myatt, 2007. "On the Theory of Strategic Voting -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 255-281.
    12. Roger B. Myerson, 1997. "Large Poisson Games," Discussion Papers, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science 1189, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    13. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "The law of large numbers with a continuum of IID random variables," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 19-25, February.
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