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Endogenous institutions and political extremism

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  • Wolitzky, Alexander

Abstract

The election of extreme political leaders is often associated with changes in political institutions. This paper studies these phenomena through a model in which the median voter elects a leader anticipating that he will impose institutional constraints—such as constitutional amendments, judicial appointments, or the implicit threat of a coup—that influence the behavior of future political challengers. It is typically optimal for the median voter to elect an extreme incumbent when democracy is less fully consolidated, when the costs of imposing institutional constraints are intermediate, and when the distribution of potential challengers is asymmetric. The median voter typically elects a more right-wing incumbent when the distribution of potential challengers shifts to the left. Implications of the model for the consolidation of democracy and institutional constraints are discussed, as are several related mechanisms through which politiciansʼ ability to affect institutions may lead voters to optimally elect extremists.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolitzky, Alexander, 2013. "Endogenous institutions and political extremism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 86-100.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:81:y:2013:i:c:p:86-100
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2013.04.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:pubeco:v:152:y:2017:i:c:p:93-101 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutions; Extremism; Democratic consolidation; Repression;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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