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A Theory of Political Entrenchment

Listed author(s):
  • Gilles Saint‐Paul
  • Davide Ticchi
  • Andrea Vindigni

Can an incumbent political party increase its chances at re-election by implementing inefficient policies that harm its constituency? This paper studies the possibility of such a phenomenon, which we label political entrenchment. We use a two-party dynamic model of redistribution with probabilistic voting. Political entrenchment by the Left occurs only if incumbency rents are sufficiently high. Low-skill citizens may vote for this party even though they rationally expect the adoption of these policies. We discuss: the possibility of entrenchment by the Right; the scope for commitment to avoid entrenchment policies; and the effect of state capacity, income inequality and party popularity on the likelihood of entrenchment. We illustrate our theory with a number of historical examples.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2016.126.issue-593
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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 126 (2016)
Issue (Month): 593 (06)
Pages: 1238-1263

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Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:126:y:2016:i:593:p:1238-1263
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