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A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics

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  • Grossman, Gene
  • Helpman, Elhanan

Abstract

We develop a novel model of campaigns, elections, and policymaking in which the ex ante objectives of national party leaders differ from the ex post objectives of elected legislators. This generates a distinction between "policy rhetoric" and "policy reality" and introduces an important role for "party discipline" in the policymaking process. We identify a protectionist bias in majoritarian politics. When trade policy is chosen by the majority delegation and legislators in the minority have limited means to influence choices, the parties announce trade policies that favor specific factors, and the expected tariff or export subsidy is positive. Positions and expected outcomes monotonically approach free trade as party discipline strengthens.

Suggested Citation

  • Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 2005. "A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 5238, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5238
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1121-1161, December.
    2. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
    3. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "Party Discipline and Pork Barrel Politics," NBER Working Papers 11396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    5. Fiona McGillivray & Alastair Smith, 1997. "Institutional determinants of trade policy," International Interactions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 119-143, January.
    6. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinski, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96.
    7. Willmann, Gerald, 2003. "Why Legislators are Protectionists: The Role of Majoritarian Voting in Setting Tariffs," Economics Working Papers 2003-10, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    8. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Roberto Perotti & Massimo Rostagno, 2002. "Electoral Systems and Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 609-657.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:03:p:673-687_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Avinash Dixit & Gene M. Grossman & Faruk Gul, 2000. "The Dynamics of Political Compromise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 531-568, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    comparative politics; party discipline; Trade policy; tyranny of the majority;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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