New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2009‒11‒14
eight papers chosen by

  1. Suggesting an alternative electoral proportional system. Blank votes count By Orestis Troumpounis
  2. A "winner" under any voting rule ? An experiment on the single transferable vote By Etienne Farvaque; Hubert Jayet; Lionel Ragot
  3. Constitutional Design and Political Communication By Xefteris, Dimitrios
  4. Plurality versus proportional electoral rule: study of voters’ representativeness By Amedeo Piolatto
  5. Tax Salience, Voting, and Deliberation By Rupert Sausgruber; Jean-Robert Tyran
  6. Limits to citizens’ demand in a democracy By Santanu Gupta; Raghbendra Jha
  7. The Foundations of Limited Authoritarian Government: Institutions and Power-Sharing in Dictatorships By Boix, Carles; Svolik, Milan
  8. Who Wants to Deliberate--And Why? By Neblo, Michael; Esterling, Kevin; Kennedy, Ryan; Lazer, David; Sokhey, Anand

  1. By: Orestis Troumpounis (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona)
    Abstract: I consider a two-party parliamentary election where parties compete on a quality (or valence) dimension. First I motivate why in such an election a voter may decide to cast a blank vote. Second I define a new voting system, inspired in the standard proportional representation system, where the percentage of blank votes is translated into vacant seats in the parliament. I analyze party competition assuming adapted versions of the models of “Bertand” and “Cournot”. I compare the equilibrium outcomes on parties’ quality and profits obtained with both the alternative proportional system and the standard one. I show that society and parties may have interests in conflict.
    Keywords: electoral systems, blank voting, proportional representation systems, endogenous valence
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2009
  2. By: Etienne Farvaque (EQUIPPE - Université de Lille I); Hubert Jayet (EQUIPPE - Université de Lille I); Lionel Ragot (EQUIPPE - Université de Lille I, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I)
    Abstract: In this paper, we expose the results of a voting experiment realised in 2007, during the French Presidential election. This experiment aimed at confronting the Single Transferable vote (SVT) procedure to two criteria : simplicity and the selection of a Condorcet-winner. Building on our electoral sample's preferences, we show that this voting procedure can design a different winner, depending on the vote counting process. With the vote counting process advocated by Hare, the winner is Nicolas Sarkozy, while the Coombs vote counting process has François Bayrou as winner. For these two vote counting processes, the details of the experiment are the same and it is shown that the simplicity criterion is respected. However, with regard to the Condorcet-winner criterion, the Coombs methods is the only one to elect the Condorcet-winner, i.e. François Bayrou.
    Keywords: Field experiments, elections, Single Transferable Vote, voting system, Condorcet Winner.
    Date: 2009–07
  3. By: Xefteris, Dimitrios
    Abstract: This paper models the constitutional design process, and points out the importance of political communication (defined as the level of information about the social distribution of policy preferences that individuals hold, at the time of this process) on the "extent" of "democratic restraints" of the socially preferred constitution and on the welfare derived by the society from its implementation. The results demonstrate that the level of political communication has a positive effect on the level of democracy of the socially preferred constitution and on social welfare. Moreover, it is proved that, even if there exist no tolerance for dictatorship by societies in general, the level of democracy demanded by the society, reaches the maximum possible level, only if political communication is "perfect". That is, the socially preferred constitution in cases of "imperfect" political communication incorporates both dictatorial and democratic elements.
    Keywords: constitution; political communication; democracy
    JEL: D81 D70 K00 D60
    Date: 2009–06–01
  4. By: Amedeo Piolatto (Universidad de Alicante)
    Abstract: Thinking of electoral rules, common wisdom suggests that proportional rule is more fair, since all voters are equally represented: at times, it turns out that this is false. I study the formation of both Parliament and Government; for the composition of the former I consider plurality and proportional rule; for the formation of the latter, I assume that parties play a non-cooperative game `a la Rubinstein. I show that, unless parties are impatient to form a Government, proportional electoral rules translate into a more distortive distribution of power among parties than plurality rule; this happens because of the bargaining power of small parties during Government formation.
    Keywords: Electoral systems, proportional rule, plurality rule, voters’ representation
    JEL: C71 D72 H1 P16
    Date: 2009
  5. By: Rupert Sausgruber; Jean-Robert Tyran
    Abstract: Tax incentives can be more or less salient, i.e. noticeable or cognitively easy to process. Our hypothesis is that taxes on consumers are more salient to consumers than equivalent taxes on sellers because consumers underestimate the extent of tax shifting in the market. We show that tax salience biases consumers’ voting on tax regimes, and that experience is an effective de-biasing mechanism in the experimental laboratory. Pre-vote deliberation makes initially held opinions more extreme rather than correct and does not eliminate the bias in the typical committee. Yet, if voters can discuss their experience with the tax regimes they are less likely to be biased.
    Keywords: Tax salience, learning, deliberation, voting
    JEL: C92 H22 D72
    Date: 2009–10
  6. By: Santanu Gupta; Raghbendra Jha
    Abstract: This paper examines how citizens decide on their reservation utilities (expectations), in a model with democratic institutions and majority rule. If all individuals have identical incomes, then political competition amongst citizens, to attract resources from the government brings reservation utilities of citizens down to zero. The same is not the case when individuals have different incomes, but it is the richest and the median income citizens who win in the process and tax resources are equally distributed between them. In a situation where the government is corrupt and siphons off a part of the tax revenues, citizens can by having higher reservation utilities prevent it, but choose not to do so, given the political competition amongst citizens. Corruption is manifested in higher tax rates and not in a decline in public good allocation to jurisdictions.
    Keywords: median voter, local public good, reservation utility
    JEL: H41 H72
    Date: 2009
  7. By: Boix, Carles (Princeton University); Svolik, Milan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
    Abstract: Why do some dictatorships establish institutions that are typically associated with democracy, such as legislatures or political parties? We propose a new theoretical model of institutions and power-sharing in dictatorships. We argue that by facilitating power-sharing, political institutions promote the survival of dictatorships. However, authoritarian power-sharing through institutions is feasible only when it is backed by the crude but credible threat of a rebellion by the dictator's allies. Whereas the allies' political opportunities determine the credibility of the threat of a rebellion, institutions alleviate the commitment and monitoring problems that stem from the secrecy in authoritarian governance. We use both historical and large-N data to assess these new predictions about the relationship between political institutions, dictator tenure, and the concentration of power in dictatorships.
    Date: 2009
  8. By: Neblo, Michael (Ohio State University); Esterling, Kevin (University of California, Riverside); Kennedy, Ryan (University of Houston); Lazer, David (Northeastern University and Harvard University); Sokhey, Anand (Ohio State University)
    Abstract: Interest in deliberative theories of democracy has grown tremendously among political theorists over the last twenty years. Many scholars in political behavior, however, are skeptical that it is a practically viable theory, even on its own terms. They argue (inter alia) that most people dislike politics, and that deliberative initiatives would amount to a paternalistic imposition. Using two large, representative samples investigating people's hypothetical willingness to deliberate and their actual behavior in response to a real invitation to deliberate with their member of Congress, we find: 1) that willingness to deliberate in the U.S. is much more widespread than expected; and 2) that it is precisely people who are less likely to participate in traditional partisan politics who are most interested in deliberative participation. They are attracted to such participation as a partial alternative to "politics as usual."
    Date: 2009–09

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