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Constitutionalism, Division of Power and Transaction Costs

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Abstract

According to many democracy theorists, there is an unavoidable trade-off between constitutionalism and the need for political action. This paper criticizes that belief. Rather, it argues that a division of power, while sometimes entailing high political transaction costs, can nevertheless be beneficial and that it is not necessarily the case that a division of power does entail high transaction costs. The analysis expands the framework of Buchanan and Tullock (1962). Constitutionalism is thus defended against one of its main perceived deficiencies: its bringing about gridlock. This does not always happen, and when it does, it is often a good thing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 3.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 11 Sep 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Public Choice, 2003, pages 99-124.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0003

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Keywords: Political transaction costs; Constitutionalism; Political institutions; Division of power; Quality of political decision-making;

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References

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  1. William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 1975. "The Independent Judiciary in an Interest-Group Perspective," NBER Working Papers 0110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Frey, Bruno S, 1997. "A Constitution for Knaves Crowds Out Civic Virtues," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 1043-53, July.
  3. Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer:, . "Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland," IEW - Working Papers 119, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2001. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2872, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Buchanan, James M, 2001. "Direct Democracy, Classical Liberalism, and Constitutional Strategy," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 235-42.
  6. Frey, Bruno S, 1994. "Direct Democracy: Politico-economic Lessons from Swiss Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 338-42, May.
  7. W. J. Henisz, 2000. "The Institutional Environment for Economic Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  8. Feld, Lars P & Savioz, Marcel R, 1997. "Direct Democracy Matters for Economic Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 507-38.
  9. Feld, Lars P. & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2000. "Direct democracy, political culture, and the outcome of economic policy: a report on the Swiss experience," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 287-306, June.
  10. Klaus Zimmermann & Tobias Just, 2000. "Interest Groups, Referenda, and the Political Process: On the Efficiency of Direct Democracy," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 147-163, June.
  11. Lars P. Feld & John G. Matsusaka, 2000. "Budget Referendums and Government Spending: Evidence from Swiss," CESifo Working Paper Series 323, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Buchanan, James M., 1986. "The Constitution of Economic Policy," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1986-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  13. Moser, Peter, 1999. "The impact of legislative institutions on public policy: a survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-33, March.
  14. Matsusaka, John G, 2000. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative in the First Half of the Twentieth Century," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 619-50, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Mogens Justesen & Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2013. "Institutional interactions and economic growth: the joint effects of property rights, veto players and democratic capital," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 449-474, December.
  2. Niclas Berggren, 2012. "The Calculus of Consent: some Swedish connections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 152(3), pages 313-321, September.
  3. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2011. "Appropriation, violent enforcement, and transaction costs: a critical survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 147(1), pages 227-253, April.
  4. Wohlgemuth, Michael, 2004. "The Communicative Character of Capitalistic Competition: A Hayekian response to the Habermasian challenge," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 04/1, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..

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