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Does Political Representation through Parties Decrease Voters' Acceptance of Decisions?


  • Emanuel Towfigh

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Andreas Glöckner

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Sebastian Goerg

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Philip Leifeld

    () (University of Konstanz, Zukunftskolleg)

  • Carlos Kurschilgen

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Aniol Llorente-Saguer

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Sophie Bade

    () (Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Economics)


Are decisions by political parties more or less accepted than direct-democratic decisions? The literature on parties as brand names or labels suggests that the existence of political parties lowers information and transaction costs of voters by providing ideological packages. Building on this important argument, we posit that this informational rationale for parties is not universally applicable and is contingent on the context of the decision that is made. Intermediary political decision-making institutions may impose additional costs on voters in situations where the decision is perceived to be personally important to the individual voter. We conduct an experimental online vignette study to substantiate these claims. The results imply that a combination of representative democracy and direct democracy, conditional on the distribution of issue importance among the electorate, is optimal with regard to acceptance of a decision.

Suggested Citation

  • Emanuel Towfigh & Andreas Glöckner & Sebastian Goerg & Philip Leifeld & Carlos Kurschilgen & Aniol Llorente-Saguer & Sophie Bade, 2013. "Does Political Representation through Parties Decrease Voters' Acceptance of Decisions?," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_10, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2013_10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Becker, Gary S., 1978. "The Economic Approach to Human Behavior," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226041124.
    2. Martinelli, Cesar, 2006. "Would rational voters acquire costly information?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 129(1), pages 225-251, July.
    3. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:103:y:2009:i:04:p:570-587_99 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Benjamin A. Olken, 2008. "Direct Democracy and Local Public Goods: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 14123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Scott Ashworth & Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, 2008. "Informative Party Labels With Institutional and Electoral Variation," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 20(3), pages 251-273, July.
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