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Divisive politics and accountability

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  • Kiss, Áron

Abstract

The paper analyzes a political accountability game with an electorate of ‘partisan’ and ‘independent’ voters. It is shown that politicians have a strategic incentive to engage in ‘divisive politics’, that is, to force some independent voters to take sides, even if the direct electoral benefits are higher for their opponents than for themselves. By polarizing the electorate, the incumbent politician weakens the ability of independent voters to make him accountable for his policies in the common interest. Moreover, the interests of the incumbent and the opposition are aligned: the opposition also benefits from divisive politics because, in equilibrium, its election probability increases.

Suggested Citation

  • Kiss, Áron, 2012. "Divisive politics and accountability," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 208-214.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:28:y:2012:i:2:p:208-214
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2011.11.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote-Seeking, Tax-Setting, and Yardstick Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 25-45, March.
    2. Torsten Persson & Gérard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202.
    3. Geys, Benny & Vermeir, Jan, 2008. "Party cues and yardstick voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 470-477, June.
    4. Áron Kiss, 2009. "Coalition politics and accountability," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 413-428, June.
    5. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    6. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2011. "Political competition and politician quality: evidence from Italian municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 547-559, September.
    2. Leon, Gabriel, 2014. "Strategic redistribution: The political economy of populism in Latin America," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 39-51.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political accountability; Ideology; Party attachment; Divided society;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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