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Corruption and Power in Democracies

  • Francesco Giovannoni
  • Daniel J. Seidmann


According to Acton: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We study the implications of Acton’s dictum in models where citizens vote (for three parties) and governments then form in a series of elections. In each election, parties have fixed tastes for graft, which affect negotiations to form a government if parliament hangs; but incumbency changes tastes across elections. We argue that combinations of Acton’s dictum with various assumptions about citizen sophistication and inter-party commitments generate tight and testable predictions which cover plausible dynamics of government formation in an otherwise stationary environment.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 08/192.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:08/192
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  1. Baron, David P. & Diermeier, Daniel & Fong, Pohan, 2007. "Policy Dynamics and Inefficiency in a Parliamentary Democracy with Proportional Representation," Research Papers 1960, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  2. Roger B. Myerson, 1991. "Effectiveness of Electoral Systems for Reducing Government Corruption: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," Discussion Papers 956, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Daniel Diermeier & Antoni Merlo, 1999. "An Empirical Investigation of Coalitional Bargaining Procedures," Discussion Papers 1267, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-51, July.
  5. Stefan Krause & Fabio M�Ndez, 2009. "Corruption And Elections: An Empirical Study For A Cross-Section Of Countries," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 179-200, 07.
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  7. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  8. Bandyopadhyay, Siddhartha & Chatterjee, Kalyan & Sj�str�m, Tomas, 2011. "Pre-electoral Coalitions and Post-election Bargaining," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 6(1), pages 1-53, August.
  9. Lorenzo Pellegrini & Reyer Gerlagh, 2008. "Causes of corruption: a survey of cross-country analyses and extended results," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 245-263, July.
  10. Daniel Seidmann, 2006. "Perverse Committee Appointments May Foster Divide and Rule," Discussion Papers 2006-08, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  11. Francesco Giovannoni & Daniel J. Seidmann, 2008. "Corruption and Power in Democracies," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/192, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  12. David Baron & Daniel Diermeier & Pohan Fong, 2012. "A dynamic theory of parliamentary democracy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 49(3), pages 703-738, April.
  13. Helios Herrera & David K Levine & Cesar Martinelli, 2007. "Policy Platforms, Campaign Spending and Voter Participation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000935, David K. Levine.
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  15. Ansolabehere, Stephen & Snyder, James M, Jr, 2000. " Valence Politics and Equilibrium in Spatial Election Models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 327-36, June.
  16. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey., 1987. "Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes," Working Papers 643, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  17. Roger B. Myerson, 2006. "Bipolar Multicandidate Elections with Corruption," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 727-742, December.
  18. Hauk, Esther & Sáez-Martí, María, 2001. "On the Cultural Transmission of Corruption," Working Paper Series 564, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  19. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  20. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2003. "A Structural Model of Government Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 27-70, January.
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  22. David P. Baron & Daniel Diermeier, 2001. "Elections, Governments, And Parliaments In Proportional Representation Systems," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 933-967, August.
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