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A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates

  • Osborne, Martin J
  • Slivinski, Al

The authors develop a model of electoral competition in which citizens choose whether or not to run as candidates. A winner implements her favorite policy. The equilibrium number of candidates depends negatively on the cost of running and positively on the benefits of winning. For some parameter values, all equilibria under plurality rule have exactly two candidates, whose positions are distinct. Two-candidate elections are more likely under plurality rule than under a runoff system. The candidates' positions are less differentiated under a runoff system. There exist equilibria under both systems in which some candidates have no chance of winning. Copyright 1996, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 111 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 65-96

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:111:y:1996:i:1:p:65-96
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  1. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," Scholarly Articles 4553030, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
  3. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
  4. Palfrey, Thomas R, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 139-56, January.
  5. Martin J. Osborne, 1992. "Candidate Positioning and Entry in a Political Competition," Department of Economics Working Papers 1992-02, McMaster University.
  6. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
  7. 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.
  8. Stephen Wright & William Riker, 1989. "Plurality and runoff systems and numbers of candidates," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 60(2), pages 155-175, February.
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