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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gersbach, Hans, 2009. "Higher Vote Thresholds for Incumbents, Effort and Selection," CEPR Discussion Papers 7320, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7320

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Alex Cukierman, 1990. "The Politics of Ambiguity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(4), pages 829-850.
    2. 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.
    3. Gersbach, Hans, 2007. "Vote-share Contracts and Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 6497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Gregory D. Hess & Athanasios Orphanides, 2001. "War and Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 776-810, August.
    5. Cukierman, Alex & Tommasi, Mariano, 1998. "When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 180-197, March.
    6. 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.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:101:y:2007:i:02:p:303-320_07 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item


    effort; elections; incumbents; political contracts; selection; vote-share thresholds;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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