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Who Gets On Top in Democracy? Elections as Filters

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  • Cooter, Robert D.

Abstract

Economic models of politics usually assume that all politicians maximize their narrow self-interest, so the constitution and other laws should be designed to constrain the worst people. In contrast, I assume that different politicians have different traits of character, so the constitution and other laws should be designed to promote the best and demote the worst. Successful filtering of politicians partly determines whether a country enjoys good or bad government. In my model, each election serves as a filter, so, up to a point, more elections filter better. Countries that suffer bad government do so partly because politicians face too few elections for the citizens to identify the worst characters and remove them from office. These countries, however, should not necessarily shorten the term of office in order to have more frequent elections. Rather, these countries should reduce the depth of administration and create a federal structure with more elected governments. Similarly, these countries should tilt influence towards voters and away from party leaders by favoring winner-take-all elections.

Suggested Citation

  • Cooter, Robert D., 2002. "Who Gets On Top in Democracy? Elections as Filters," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt4q258892, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt4q258892
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno S. Frey, 2007. "Evaluierungen, Evaluierungen H Evaluitis," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8(3), pages 207-220, August.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:348-367 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Timothy Besley, 2005. "Political Selection," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 43-60, Summer.
    4. Gari Walkowitz & Arne R. Weiss, 2014. ""Read my Lips!" Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Electoral Competition on Shirking and Trust," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 05-07, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
    5. Fabio Padovano, 2013. "Are we witnessing a paradigm shift in the analysis of political competition?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 631-651, September.
    6. Thomas Braendle, 2015. "Does remuneration affect the discipline and the selection of politicians? Evidence from pay harmonization in the European Parliament," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 162(1), pages 1-24, January.
    7. Michael Funk & Reiner Eichenberger, 2007. ""It's the Challenger, Stupid!": Elections and the Theory of Rank-Order Tournaments," CREMA Working Paper Series 2007-20, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    8. Thomas Braendle & Alois Stutzer, 2017. "Voters and Representatives: How Should Representatives Be Selected?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2017-05, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

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