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Democracy undone. Systematic minority advantage in competitive vote markets

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  • Casella, Alessandra
  • Turban, Sébastien

Abstract

We study the competitive equilibrium of a market for votes where the choice is binary and it is known that a majority of the voters supports one of the two alternatives. Voters can trade votes for a numeraire before making a decision via majority rule. We identify a sufficient condition guaranteeing the existence of an ex ante equilibrium. In equilibrium, only the most intense voter on each side demands votes, and each demands enough votes to alone control a majority. The equilibrium strongly resembles an all-pay auction for decision power: it makes clear that votes are only a medium for the allocation of power. The probability of a minority victory is always higher than efficient and converges rapidly to one-half as the electorate increases, for any minority size. The numerical advantage of the majority becomes irrelevant: democracy is undone by the market.

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  • Casella, Alessandra & Turban, Sébastien, 2014. "Democracy undone. Systematic minority advantage in competitive vote markets," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 47-70.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:88:y:2014:i:c:p:47-70
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2014.07.002
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    1. Casella, Alessandra & Turban, Sébastien, 2014. "Democracy undone. Systematic minority advantage in competitive vote markets," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 47-70.
    2. Casella, Alessandra & Palfrey, Thomas & Turban, Sébastien, 2014. "Vote trading with and without party leaders," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 115-128.
    3. Xefteris, Dimitrios & Ziros, Nicholas, 2018. "Strategic vote trading under complete information," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 52-58.
    4. Dimitrios Xefteris & Nicholas Ziros, 2017. "Strategic Vote Trading in Power Sharing Systems," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 76-94, May.
    5. Nikolas Tsakas & Dimitrios Xefteris & Nicholas Ziros, 2018. "Vote trading in power-sharing systems: A laboratory investigation," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 13-2018, University of Cyprus Department of Economics, revised 25 Jul 2020.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting; Majority voting; Markets for votes; Vote trading; Competitive equilibrium;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C62 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Existence and Stability Conditions of Equilibrium
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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