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Approval Quorums Dominate Participation Quorums

  • Maniquet, François; Morelli, Massimo

We study direct democracy with population uncertainty. Voters' participation is often among the desiderata by the election designer. A participation quorum is a threshold on the fraction of participating voters below which the status quo is kept. We show that participation quorums produce incentive for partisans of the status quo to abstain, with the consequence that the status quo may be kept in situations where the planner would prefer the reform, or the reform is passed when the planner prefers the status quo. An approval quorum is a threshold on the number of voters expressing a ballot in favor of the reform below which the status quo is kept. We show that approval quorums do not suffer from the drawbacks of participation quorums. Moreover, an electoral system with approval quorum performs better than one with participation quorum even when the planner wishes to implement the corresponding participation quorum social choice function.

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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2010/13.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2010/13
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