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The Significance of the Probabilistic Voting Theorem

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  • Dan Usher

Abstract

Public decision-making by majority rule is open to the danger of exploitation of minorities by majorities. Since any majority can employ the vote to expropriate the corresponding minority, it would seem that there can be no electoral equilibrium allocation of income or transfers in a democratic society and that democracy itself might be unstable. Much of democratic theory is devoted to the study of how this danger can be averted. The probabilistic voting theorem establishes that a degree of voter insensitivity to offers of rival political parties imparts an electoral equilibrium where it would not otherwise exits. The theorem is valid on its assumptions, but those assumptions are considerably stronger, and the theorem is less comforting about the prospects for the stability of democratic government, than one might at first suppose.

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File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_785.pdf
File Function: First version 1990
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Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 785.

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Date of creation: Sep 1990
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Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:785

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Cited by:
  1. Dan Usher, 2012. "Bargaining and voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 739-755, June.
  2. Dan Usher, 2010. "Three Papers on Bargaining," Working Papers 1239, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  3. Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2000. " Probabilistic Voting and Equilibrium: An Impossibility Result," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(1-2), pages 35-48, April.
  4. Stanley L. Winer & Walter Hettich, 2002. "The Political Economy of Taxation: Positive and Normative Analysis when Collective Choice Matters," Carleton Economic Papers 02-11, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2004.
  5. George Warskett & Stanley Winer & Walter Hettich, 1998. "The Complexity of Tax Structure in Competitive Political Systems," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 123-151, May.
  6. BRETON, Albert & SALMON, Pierre, 2002. "Constitutional rules and competitive politics : their effects on secessionism," LATEC - Document de travail - Economie (1991-2003) 2002-06, LATEC, Laboratoire d'Analyse et des Techniques EConomiques, CNRS UMR 5118, Université de Bourgogne.
  7. Winer, Stanley L. & Hettich, Walter, 1998. "What Is Missed If We Leave Out Collective Choice in the Analysis of Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 2), pages 373-89, June.

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