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Scandal, Protection, and Recovery in Political Cabinets

  • David P. Myatt
  • Torun Dewan

Empirical evidence suggests that a Prime Minister can benefit from firing ministers who are involved in political scandals. We explore a model in which a minister`s exposure to scandals is positvely related to his policy activism, so that a Prime Minister may wish to protect him from resignation calls. We find that protection can sometimes work against the objective of encouraging activism: it makes a minister`s position more valuable to him and hence can encourage him to sit tight by moderating his activities. On the other hand, an exogenous increase in exposure to scandals may lead a minister to live for today by pursuing controversial policy innovations. The Prime Minister`s ability to protect ministers from resignation calls is limited by her short-term incentive to fire. She may, however, enhance her credibility by building a collective reputation with the wider membership of her cabinet; we show that heterogeneity of cabinet membership can play an important role.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 237.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:237
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  1. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote-Seeking, Tax-Setting, and Yardstick Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 25-45, March.
  2. Caselli, Francesco & Morelli, Massimo, 2004. "Bad politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 759-782, March.
  3. Bentley MacLeod & James M. Malcomson, 1985. "Reputation and Hierarchy in Dynamic Models of Employment," Working Papers 628, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  4. Daniel Diermeier & Antonio Merlo, 1998. "Government Turnover in Parliamentary Democracies," Discussion Papers 1232, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Ernesto Dal Bo & Rafael Di Tella, 2003. "Capture by Threat," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1123-1152, October.
  6. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1990. "Multimarket Contact and Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
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