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Majority runoff elections: Strategic voting and Duverger's hypothesis

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  • Laurent Bouton
  • Gabriele Gratton

Abstract

The majority runoff system is widely used around the world, yet our understanding of its properties and of voters' behavior is limited. In this paper, we fully characterize the set of strictly perfect voting equilibria in large three-candidate majority runoff elections. Considering all possible distributions of preference orderings and intensities, we prove that only two types of equilibria can exist. First, there are always equilibria in which only two candidates receive votes. Second, there may exist an equilibrium in which three candidates receive votes. Its characteristics challenge common beliefs: (i) neither sincere voting by all voters nor pushover tactics (i.e. supporters of the front-runner voting for a less preferred candidate so as to influence who will face the front-runner in the second round) are supported in equilibrium, and (ii) the winner does not necessarily have democratic legitimacy since the Condorcet winner may not even participate in the second round.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent Bouton & Gabriele Gratton, 2015. "Majority runoff elections: Strategic voting and Duverger's hypothesis," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/225269, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/225269
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    Cited by:

    1. Bouton, Laurent & Castanheira, Micael & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol, 2016. "Divided majority and information aggregation: Theory and experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 114-128.
    2. Meroni, Claudia & Pimienta, Carlos, 2017. "The structure of Nash equilibria in Poisson games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 128-144.
    3. Hughes, Niall, 2016. "Voting in legislative elections under plurality rule," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 51-93.
    4. Verdier, Thierry & Seror, Avner, 2018. "Multi-candidate Political Competition and the Industrial Organization of Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 13121, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Tsakas, Nikolas & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2021. "Information aggregation with runoff voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    6. Laurent Bouton & Jorge Gallego & Aniol Llorente-Saguer & Rebecca Morton, 2022. "Run-off Elections in the Laboratory," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 132(641), pages 106-146.
    7. Joshua Holzer, 2019. "Reevaluating the presidential runoff rule: Does a provision promote the protection of human rights?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(5), pages 1-11, May.
    8. Massimo Bordignon & Guido Tabellini, 2009. "Moderating Political Extremism: Single Round vs Runoff Elections under Plurality Rule," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Economia e Finanza ief0087, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    9. Tsakas, Nikolas & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2021. "Stress-testing the runoff rule in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 18-38.
    10. De Sinopoli, Francesco & Meroni, Claudia & Pimienta, Carlos, 2014. "Strategic stability in Poisson games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 46-63.
    11. Laurent Bouton, 2013. "A Theory of Strategic Voting in Runoff Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1248-1288, June.
    12. Massimo Bordignon & Tommaso Nannicini & Guido Tabellini, 2016. "Moderating Political Extremism: Single Round versus Runoff Elections under Plurality Rule," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(8), pages 2349-2370, August.
    13. Christos A. Ioannou & Miltiadis Makris, 2019. "An Experimental Study Of Uncertainty In Coordination Games," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(2), pages 751-799, May.
    14. Vincent Pons & Clémence Tricaud, 2018. "Expressive Voting and Its Cost: Evidence From Runoffs With Two or Three Candidates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(5), pages 1621-1649, September.
    15. Francesco Sinopoli & Christopher Künstler & Claudia Meroni & Carlos Pimienta, 2023. "Poisson–Cournot games," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 75(3), pages 803-840, April.
      • Francesco De Sinopoli & Christopher Kunstler & Claudia Meroni & Carlos Pimienta, 2020. "Poisson-Cournot Games," Discussion Papers 2020-07, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    16. Menezes, Aline, 2017. "Do some electoral systems select better politicians than others? Single- vs dual-ballot elections," MPRA Paper 79370, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Orestis Troumpounis & Dimitrios Xefteris, 2016. "Incomplete information, proportional representation and strategic voting," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(4), pages 879-903, December.
    18. Germán Gieczewski, 2021. "Policy Persistence and Drift in Organizations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(1), pages 251-279, January.
    19. Francesco De Sinopoli & Claudia Meroni, 2022. "Poisson voting games under proportional rule," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 58(3), pages 507-526, April.
    20. Bouton, Laurent & Ogden, Benjamin, 2017. "Ethical Voting in Multicandidate Elections," CEPR Discussion Papers 12374, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Laurent Bouton & Benjamin G. Ogden, 2017. "Group-based Voting in Multicandidate Elections," NBER Working Papers 23898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Hughes, Niall, 2020. "Strategic Voting in Two-Party Legislative Elections," MPRA Paper 100363, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Bouton, Laurent & Castanheira, Micael & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol, 2016. "Divided majority and information aggregation: Theory and experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 114-128.
    24. Buisseret, Peter, 2017. "Electoral competition with entry under non-majoritarian run-off rules," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 494-506.
    25. Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, 2019. "Many-Candidate Nash Equilibria for Elections Involving Random Selection," Methodology and Computing in Applied Probability, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 279-293, March.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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