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A Drawback Of Electoral Competition


  • Alessandro Lizzeri

    (New York University and CEPR,)

  • Nicola Persico

    (University of Pennsylvania,)


In most major democracies there are very fewparties compared to the number of possible policy positions held by voters. We provide an efficiency rationale for why it might be appropriate to limit the proliferation of parties. In our model, the larger the number of parties, the greater the inefficiency of the outcome of electoral competition. The reason is that, when the number of parties increases, electoral incentives push each party to focus its electoral promises on a narrower constituency, and then special interest policies replace more efficient policies that have diffuse benefits. The analysis provides a possible explanation for the existence of institutional features that limit the extent of electoral competition: thresholds of exclusion, runoff electoral systems, and majoritarian two-party political systems. (JEL: D82, L15) Copyright (c) 2005 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2005. "A Drawback Of Electoral Competition," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1318-1348, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:3:y:2005:i:6:p:1318-1348

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    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality


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