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Incumbency Advantage in Nondemocratic Elections

  • Konstantin Sonin

    (New Economic School)

  • Georgy Egorov

    (Northwestern University)

In nondemocratic politics, incumbency advantage often manifests in the incumbent's ability to eliminate the opponent. We study the impact of this institutional imperfection on both the selection of politicians for office and accountability for those who were selected. In a career-concerns framework, citizens and politicians are symmetrically yet imperfectly informed about the abilities of the latter. The outcome of a contest between the incumbent leader and a challenger depends on the incumbent's ability to use violence (an institutional parameter) and resolve to resort to violence, which depends on strategic advantages of having reputation for violence. In equilibrium, the ability to eliminate a political opponent (the non-democratic incumbency advantage) has a negative effect on the incumbents' efforts in office. The impact of this ability on the pool of successful challengers, however, might be positive. Furthermore, strategic interaction between the incumbent and future leaders generates a natural path-dependence: elimination of a political opponent typically hurts the selection of competent politicians, which encourages further violence. The model is simple and admits extensions that may be used for comparative studies of political institutions and their consequences.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 417.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:417
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

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