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Higher Vote Thresholds for Incumbents, Effort and Selection

  • Gersbach, Hans

The election mechanism has difficulties in selecting the most able candidates and deselecting less able ones. In a simple model we show that the power of elections as a selection and incentive device can be improved by requiring higher vote thresholds than 50% for incumbents. A higher vote threshold makes it impossible for office-holders of low ability to pool with more able office-holders in order to be reelected. As a consequence, the average ability of reelected politicians and the average effort level tends to increase. The socially optimal threshold can be set by the public. Alternatively, one could allow candidates to compete with individual vote thresholds.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7320.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7320
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  1. Gregory D. Hess & Athanasios Orphanides, 1999. "War and Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 201, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Cox, Gary W. & Katz, Jonathan N., 1995. "Why Did The Incumbency Advantage In U.S. House Elections Grow?," Working Papers 939, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Alex Cukierman, 1987. "The Politics of Ambiguity," NBER Working Papers 2468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2005. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 347-373, March.
  5. Gersbach, Hans, 2007. "Vote-share Contracts and Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 6497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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