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Informal Elections with Dispersed Information


  • Mehmet Ekmekci


  • Stephan Lauermann



We study a model of information transmission through an informal election. Partially informed senders send binary messages to a receiver, and the receiver chooses a policy after observing the number of messages sent. Our leading example is protests in which the citizens' participation choices are their messages, and there may be positive costs or benefits of participation. A policy maker infers information from the aggregate turnout. However, the presence of activists who obtain direct benefits from participation adds noise to turnout. We show that the interplay between noise and costs leads to strategic substitution and strategic complementarity effects in the participation decisions, and we characterize their implications for the informativeness of protests. When there is no noise, information aggregates and the outcome is efficient. Our findings contrast with existing work, which shows that for many informal election scenarios with costless participation, a bias of the policy maker may prohibit any information transmission.

Suggested Citation

  • Mehmet Ekmekci & Stephan Lauermann, 2019. "Informal Elections with Dispersed Information," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2019_080, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:bon:boncrc:crctr224_2019_080

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    Voting; Information Aggregation;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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