New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2011‒10‒01
nine papers chosen by

  1. Sincere Versus Sophisticated Voting When Legislators Vote Sequentially By Jeffrey Milyo; Tim Groseclose
  2. Making Outsiders' Votes Count: Detecting Electoral Fraud Through a Natural Experiment By Kentaro Fukumoto; Yusaku Horiuchi
  3. Incumbents and Criminals in the Indian National Legislature By Aidt, T.; Golden, M. A.; Tiwari, D.
  4. Why Do Voters Dismantle Checks and Balances? By Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson and Ragnar Torvik
  5. Should Candidates Smile to Win Elections? An Application of Automated Face Recognition Technology By Yusaku Horiuchi; Tadashi Komatsu; Fumio Nakaya
  6. Policymakers' Horizon and Trade Reforms By Paola Conconi; Giovanni Facchini; Maurizio Zanardi
  7. Electoral Representation at the European level and its Institutional Design: A reappraisal of recent reform plans By Wilhelm Lehmann
  8. Bini Smaghi vs. the Parties: Representative Government and Institutional Constraints By Peter Mair
  9. Why not proportional? By Jean-François Laslier

  1. By: Jeffrey Milyo (Department of Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia); Tim Groseclose
    Abstract: Elsewhere (Groseclose and Milyo, 2010), we examine a game where each legislator has preferences over (i) the resulting policy and (ii) how he or she votes. The latter preferences are especially important when the legislator is not pivotal. We show that when the game follows the normal rules of legislatures - most important, that legislators can change their vote after seeing how their fellow legislators have voted - then the only possible equilibrium is one where all legislators ignore their policy preferences. That is, each legislator votes as if he or she is not pivotal. The result, consistent with empirical studies of Congress, suggests that legislators should tend to vote sincerely, rather than sophisticatedly. In this paper we examine how outcomes change if we change the rules for voting. Namely, instead of a simultaneous game, we consider a game where legislators vote sequentially in a pre-determined order. We show that, opposite to the simultaneous game, an alternative wins if and only if a majority of legislators' policy preferences favor that alternative. Our results suggest that if Congress adopted this change in rules, then sophisticated voting would become frequent instead of rare.
    Keywords: Sophisticated Voting
    JEL: A1
    Date: 2011–09–16
  2. By: Kentaro Fukumoto (Gakushuin University); Yusaku Horiuchi (The Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Economics and Government)
    Abstract: Weak electoral registration requirements are commonly thought to encourage electoral participation, but may also promote electoral fraud. For one, candidates and their supporters can more easily mobilize voters outside the district to register and vote for the candidates, even though these voters do not reside within the district. We statistically detect this classic type of electoral fraud for the first time, by taking advantage of a natural experimental setting in Japanese municipal elections. We argue that whether or not a municipal election was held in April 2003 can be regarded as an "as-if" randomly assigned treatment. The difference-in-difference analysis of municipality-month panel data shows that an increase in the new population just prior to April 2003 is significantly larger in treatment municipalities (with an election) than in control ones (without an election). The estimated effects are, in some cases, decisive enough to change the electoral results, especially when the election is competitive. We argue that our approach – "election timing as treatment" – can be applied to investigate not only this type of electoral fraud but also other "electoral connection[s]" (Mayhew 1974) in other countries.
    Keywords: electoral fraud, natural experiment, local elections, Japan
    JEL: C90 D72
    Date: 2011–03
  3. By: Aidt, T.; Golden, M. A.; Tiwari, D.
    Abstract: Utilizing data on criminal charges lodged against candidates to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of representatives, we study the conditions that resulted in approximately a quarter of members of parliament elected in 2004 and in 2009 facing or having previously faced criminal charges. Our results document that Indian political parties are more likely to select alleged criminal candidates when confronting greater electoral uncertainty and in parliamentary constituencies whose populations exhibit lower levels of literacy. We interpret the decisions of political parties to enlist known criminals as candidates as a function of the capacity of these candidates to intimidate voters. To substantiate this, we show that criminal candidates depress electoral turnout. In addition, our results suggest that India’s well-known incumbency disadvantage stems from the superior electoral performance of allegedly criminal candidates, who drive parliamentary incumbents from office. Our study raises questions for democratic theory, which claims that electoral competition improves accountability, and for the future of the Indian polity, which is experiencing a growing criminalization of the national political arena.
    Date: 2011–09–18
  4. By: Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson and Ragnar Torvik (Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
    Abstract: Voters often dismantle constitutional checks and balances on the executive. If such checks and balances limit presidential abuses of power and rents, why do voters support their removal? We argue that by reducing politician rents, checks and balances also make it cheaper to bribe or ináuence politicians through non-electoral means. In weakly-institutionalized polities where such non-electoral ináuences, particularly by the better organized elite, are a major concern, voters may prefer a political system without checks and balances as a way of insulating politicians from these ináuences. When they do so, they are e§ectively accepting a certain amount of politician (presidential) rents in return for redistribution. We show that checks and balances are less likely to emerge when (equilibrium) politician rents are low; when the elite are better organized and are more likely to be able to ináuence or bribe politicians; and when inequality and potential taxes are high (which makes redistribution more valuable to the majority). We show that the main intuition, that checks and balances, by making politicians ìcheaper to bribe,î are potentially costly to the majority, is valid under di§erent ways of modeling the form of checks and balances.
    Date: 2011–09–24
  5. By: Yusaku Horiuchi (The Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Economics and Government); Tadashi Komatsu (Komatsu - Research Division); Fumio Nakaya (Osaka Kyoiku University)
    Abstract: Previous studies examining whether the faces of candidates affect election outcomes commonly measure study participants' subjective judgment of various characteristics of candidates, which participants infer based solely on the photographic images of candidates. We, instead, develop a smile index of such images objectively with automated face recognition technology. The advantage of applying this new technology is that the automated process of measuring facial traits is by design independent of voters' subjective evaluations of candidate attributes, based on the images, and thus allows us to estimate 'undiluted' effects of facial appearance per se on election outcomes. The results of regression analysis using Japanese and Australian data show that the smile index has statistically significant and substantial effects on the vote share of candidates even after controlling for other covariates.
    Keywords: voting behavior, automated face recognition, Australia, Japan
    JEL: D72 C81
    Date: 2011–03
  6. By: Paola Conconi; Giovanni Facchini; Maurizio Zanardi
    Abstract: Does policymakers’ horizon affect their willingness to support economic reforms? Voting in the U.S. Congress provides an ideal setting to address this question. Differences between the House and Senate, in which members serve two-year and six-year mandates respectively, allow to examine the role of term length; the staggered structure of the Senate allows to compare the behavior of different “generations” of senators and study the impact of election proximity. Considering all major trade liberalization reforms undertaken by the U.S. since the early 1970’s, we find that Senate members are more likely to support them than House members. However, inter-cameral differences disappear for third-generation senators, who face re-election at the same time as House members. Considering Senate votes alone, we find that the last generation is more protectionist than the previous two, a result that holds both when comparing different senators voting on the same bill and individual senators voting on different bills. Inter-generational differences disappear instead for senators who hold safe seats or have announced their retirement, indicating that the protectionist effect of election proximity is driven by legislators’ fear of losing office.
    Keywords: term length; election proximity; trade reforms
    JEL: D72 F10
    Date: 2011–08
  7. By: Wilhelm Lehmann
    Abstract: The double role of national political parties in both national and European politics is an important explanatory factor for the dilatory development of European democracy. This paper contends that the present institutional design of electoral procedures has political costs and is one of the main reasons for this two-faced representation. The argument proceeds in four steps. In the first part, the paper recapitulates that representation is a concept closely related to issues of accountability and responsiveness. Its practical application at the European level depends very much on the definition of the 'object' of representation. The second part demonstrates that democracy has not been a legalnormative notion during the early stages of European integration. However, since the signing of the Maastricht treaty genuine attempts have been made to go beyond regulatory matters and to create a political system with democratic credentials. Thirdly, the essay analyses new approaches in the design of electoral rules and evaluates the functioning of European political parties in view of the construction of a transnational political community. The final section addresses the knotty question whether it is desirable or even necessary for the European Union to become a more politicized governance system.
    Date: 2011–01–15
  8. By: Peter Mair
    Abstract: Although it is generally seen as desirable that parties in government are both responsive and responsible, these two characteristics are now in increasing tension with one another. Prudence and consistency in government, as well as accountability, requires that governments conform to external constraints and past legacies, and not just answer to public opinion, and while these external constraints and legacies have grown in weight in recent years, public opinion, in its turn, has become harder and harder for governments to read and process. Meanwhile, because of changes in their organizations and in their relationship with civil society, parties in government are no longer in a position to bridge or ‘manage’ this gap, or even to persuade voters to accept it as a necessary element in political life. This problem is illustrated by extensive reference to the current fiscal crisis in Ireland, and is also used to question some of the assumptions that are involved in principal-agent treatments of the parliamentary chain of delegation.
    Keywords: Ireland
    Date: 2011–01–15
  9. By: Jean-François Laslier (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X)
    Abstract: This paper reviews the arguments that justify the principles of proportional and degressively proportional representation.
    Keywords: Proportional representation, Degressive proportionality
    Date: 2011–09–21

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