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A Dynamic Model of Democratic Elections in Multidimensional Policy Spaces

  • Banks, Jeffrey S.
  • Duggan, John

We propose a general model of repeated elections. In each period, a challenger is chosen from the electorate to run against an incumbent politician in a majority-rule election, and the winner then selects a policy from a multidimensional policy space. Individual policy preferences are private information, whereas policy choices are publicly observable. We prove existence and continuity of equilibria in "simple" voting and policy strategies; we provide examples to show the variety of possible equilibrium patterns in multiple dimensions; we analyze the effects of patience and office-holding benefits on the persistence of policies over time; and we identify relationships between equilibrium policies and the core of the underlying voting game. As a byproduct of our analysis, we show how equilibrium incentives may lead elected representatives to make policy compromises, even when binding commitments are unavailable. We provide an informational story for incumbency advantage. Finally, we give an asymptotic version of the median voter theorem for the one-dimensional model as voters become-arbitrarily patient.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00006009
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Article provided by now publishers in its journal Quarterly Journal of Political Science.

Volume (Year): 3 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (October)
Pages: 269-299

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Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00006009
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  1. Harsanyi, John C, 1995. "Games with Incomplete Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 291-303, June.
  2. Boylan, Richard T & McKelvey, Richard D, 1995. "Voting over Economic Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 860-71, September.
  3. Davis, Otto A & DeGroot, Morris H & Hinich, Melvin J, 1972. "Social Preference Orderings and Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(1), pages 147-57, January.
  4. David Austen-Smith & Jeffrey S. Banks, 1999. "Cycling of simple rules in the spatial model," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 663-672.
  5. Banks, Jeffrey & Duggan, John & Le Breton, Michel, 2003. "Social Choice and Electoral Competition in the General Spatial Model," IDEI Working Papers 188, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  6. Kramer, Gerald H., 1977. "A dynamical model of political equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 310-334, December.
  7. Jeffrey Banks & John Duggan, 2001. "A Multidimensional Model of Repeated Elections," Wallis Working Papers WP24, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  8. Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
  10. John Duggan & Mark Fey, 2006. "Repeated Downsian electoral competition," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 39-69, December.
  11. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  12. Jeffrey Banks & John Duggan, 2006. "A Social Choice Lemma on Voting Over Lotteries with Applications to a Class of Dynamic Games," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 285-304, April.
  13. John Duggan, . "Repeated Elections with Asymmetric Information," Wallis Working Papers WP9, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  14. McKelvey, Richard D. & Schofield, Norman., 1985. "Generalized Symmetry Conditions at a Core Point," Working Papers 552, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  15. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John, 1999. "A Bargaining Model of Collective Choice," Working Papers 1053, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  16. Baron David & Kalai Ehud, 1993. "The Simplest Equilibrium of a Majority-Rule Division Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 290-301, December.
  17. Adam Meirowitz, 2007. "Probabilistic Voting and Accountability in Elections with Uncertain Policy Constraints," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(1), pages 41-68, 02.
  18. John Duggan & Mark Fey, . "Electoral Competition with Policy-Motivated Candidates," Wallis Working Papers WP19, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  19. Bernhardt, Dan & Campuzano, Larissa & Squintani, Francesco & Câmara, Odilon, 2009. "On the benefits of party competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 685-707, July.
  20. Bernhardt, Dan & Dubey, Sangita & Hughson, Eric, 2004. "Term limits and pork barrel politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2383-2422, December.
  21. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  22. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Sundaram, Rangarajan K., 1998. "Optimal Retention in Agency Problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 293-323, October.
  23. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114, February.
  24. Banks, Jeffrey S., 1995. "Singularity theory and core existence in the spatial model," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 523-536.
  25. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "The law of large numbers with a continuum of IID random variables," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 19-25, February.
  26. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
  27. Schofield, Norman, 1983. "Generic Instability of Majority Rule," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 695-705, October.
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