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Why do voters elect less qualified candidates?

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  • Mizuno, Nobuhiro
  • Okazawa, Ryosuke

Abstract

Voters sometimes vote for seemingly less qualified candidates; the winners of elections are sometimes less competent than the losers in light of candidates' observable characteristics such as their past careers. To explain this fact, we develop a political agency model with repeated elections in which a voter elects a policy maker among candidates with different competency (valence) levels. We show that politicians' competency relates negatively with political accountability when the challenger in the future election is likely to be incompetent. When this negative relation exists, voters prefer to elect an incompetent candidate if they emphasize politicians' policy choices over their competency. The negative relation between competency and accountability is possible because voters cannot commit to future voting strategies. Furthermore, voters' private information about how they evaluate candidates' competency generates a complementary mechanism leading to the negative relation between competency and accountability. This mechanism implies that voters' anti-elitism can be rational ex post even if it is groundless in the first place.

Suggested Citation

  • Mizuno, Nobuhiro & Okazawa, Ryosuke, 2018. "Why do voters elect less qualified candidates?," MPRA Paper 89215, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:89215
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    Cited by:

    1. Satoshi Kasamatsu & Daiki Kishishita, 2020. "Collective Reputation and Learning in Political Agency Problems," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1110, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Candidates' competency; Political agency; Repeated elections; Private information; Signaling;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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