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Term Limits and Electoral Accountability

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  • Michael Smart
  • Daniel M. Sturm

Abstract

Periodic elections are the main instrument through which voters can hold politicians accountable. From this perspective term limits, which restrict voters' ability to reward politicians with re-election, appear counterproductive. We show that despite the disciplining effect of elections, term limits can be ex ante welfare improving from the perspective of voters. By reducing the value of holding office term limits can induce politicians to implement policies that are closer to their private preferences. Such "truthful" behavior by incumbents in turn results in better screening of incumbents. We show that the combination of these two effects can strictly increase the utility of voters.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Smart & Daniel M. Sturm, 2006. "Term Limits and Electoral Accountability," CEP Discussion Papers dp0770, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0770
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political Agency; Accountability; Term Limits;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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