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What are the best quorum rules? A laboratory Investigation

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  • Aguiar-Conraria, Luís
  • Magalhães, Pedro C.
  • Vanberg, Christoph A.

Abstract

Many political systems with direct democracy mechanisms have adopted rules preventing decisions from being made by simple majority rule. The device most commonly added to majority rule in national is a quorum requirement. The two most common are the participation and the approval quora. Such rules are a response to three major concerns: the legitimacy of the referendum outcome, its representativeness (the concern with the outcome representing the will of the whole electorate), and protection of minorities regarding issues that should demand a broad consensus. Guided by a pivotal voter model, we conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate the performance of different quora in reaching such goals. We introduce two main innovations in relation to previous work on the topic. First, part of the electorate goes to the polls out of a sense of civic duty. Second, we test the performance of a different quorum, the rejection quorum, recently proposed in the literature. We conclude that, depending on the preferred criterion, either the approval or the rejection quorum is to be preferred.

Suggested Citation

  • Aguiar-Conraria, Luís & Magalhães, Pedro C. & Vanberg, Christoph A., 2019. "What are the best quorum rules? A laboratory Investigation," Working Papers 0671, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0671
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aguiar-Conraria, Luís & Magalhães, Pedro C., 2010. "How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: Evidence from a pivotal voter model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 541-557, December.
    2. Levine, David K. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2007. "The Paradox of Voter Participation? A Laboratory Study," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 143-158, February.
    3. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1985. "Voter Participation and Strategic Uncertainty," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 62-78, March.
    4. Annick Lamelle & Federico Valenciano, 2011. "Majorities with a quorum," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 23(2), pages 241-259, April.
      • Laruelle, Annick & Valenciano Llovera, Federico, 2010. "Majorities with a quorum," IKERLANAK 2010-42, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    5. Paulo P. Côrte-Real & Paulo T. Pereira, 2004. "The voter who wasn’t there: Referenda, representation and abstention," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 22(2), pages 349-369, April.
    6. Annick Laruelle & Federico Valenciano, 2012. "Quaternary dichotomous voting rules," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 38(3), pages 431-454, March.
    7. Coate, Stephen & Conlin, Michael & Moro, Andrea, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 582-596, April.
    8. Helios Herrera & Andrea Mattozzi, 2010. "Quorum and Turnout in Referenda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 838-871, June.
    9. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2016. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 886-909, December.
    10. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro Magalhães, 2010. "Referendum design, quorum rules and turnout," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 63-81, July.
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    Keywords

    election design; participation quorum; approval quorum; laboratory experiment;
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