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The Drawbacks of Electoral Competition

Listed author(s):
  • A. Lizzeri
  • N. Persico

We examine the effect of the number of candidates and the impact of ideology on the efficiency of the electoral process. We show that the tendency to focus on policies that provide particularistic benefits increases with the number of candidates to the expense of policies that benefit the population at large. Thus, the efficiency of policies provided in an electoral equilibrium worsens when the number of candidates increases. We next show that partisan voters are disadvantaged in the process of redistributive politics, and that the larger the fraction of voters who vote ideologically, the less efficient the political process. This is because electoral competition focuses on swing voters, increasing the values of policies with targetable benefits.

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Paper provided by Economics Department, Princeton University in its series Princeton Economic Theory Papers with number 00s14.

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Date of creation: Mar 2000
Handle: RePEc:wop:prinet:00s14
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  1. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
  2. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-156, March.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1998. "The size and scope of government: Comparative politics with rational politicians," Seminar Papers 658, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  4. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
  5. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  6. Thomas R. Palfrey, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 139-156.
  7. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinski, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96.
  8. Alessro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, "undated". "The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives," Penn CARESS Working Papers b96440ba0bfa06ca550ac40aa, Penn Economics Department.
  9. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
  10. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-1235, December.
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