Fixing the Quorum: Representation versus Abstention
The majority of the participating voters in referenda does not necessarily reflect the majority of the whole population since voters can abstain. This paper shows that a quorum exists for which the outcome of the referendum coincides with the population preference. However, a second equilibrium can exist in which the proposal is always rejected. When insu±cient information makes the optimal quorum unknown, it is in general more harmful to set the quorum too high than too low. Robustness of the results is analyzed by allowing pressure groups to encourage or discourage participation after the quorum is set.
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