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Political Cycles

  • John E. Roemer

A model of elections is put forth in which there are two parties, each representing a different constituency of voters (the poor and the rich). The political issue is the choice of a proportional tax rate on income, revenues from which are used to finance a public good. There is a stochastic element in which party wins the elections, due to party uncertainty concerning voter preferences, or due to uncertainty concerning which voters will show up at the polls. A political equilibrium in one period consists in a tax policy put forth by each party, and a probability that each party wins. A long series of elections is simulated (100 periods). Voter preferences for the public good change adversely as a function of length of time the incumbent party has been in power and the level of the public good in the last period. Thus, if the party in power funds high levels of the public good, preferences start to move against the public good. This model generates dramatic political cycles, and it is argued that these cycles are of fundamentally different origin from that discussed in the realignment literature. Copyright 1995 Blackwell Publishers Ltd..

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Economics & Politics.

Volume (Year): 7 (1995)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 1-20

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:7:y:1995:i:1:p:1-20
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