nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2010‒05‒22
fifteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Ideology and cultural policy By Niklas Potrafke
  2. Strategic, Sincere and Heuristic Voting under Four Election Rules: An Experimental Study By Blais, Andre; Laslier, Jean-François; Sauger, Nicolas; Van Der Straeten, Karine
  3. Single vote multiple seats elections. Didactics of district versus proportional representation, using the examples of the United Kingdom and The Netherlands By Colignatus, Thomas
  4. Satisfaction approval voting By Brams, Steven J; Kilgour, D. Marc
  5. Endogenous Indoctrination: Occupational Choice, the Evolution of Beliefs, and the Political Economy of Reform By Saint-Paul, Gilles
  6. Voting as a Lottery By Attanasi, Giuseppe; Corazzini, Luca; Passarelli, Francesco
  7. The Political Economy of Fiscal Reform in Latin America: The Case of Argentina By Alejandro Bonvecchi
  8. Reforming the Pay-As-You-Go Pension System: Who Votes for it ? When? By Casamatta, Georges; Gondim, Joao Luis
  9. The McGarvey problem in judgement aggregation By Pivato, Marcus; Nehring, Klaus
  10. Voting games with endogenously infeasible coalitions By László Á. Kóczy
  11. Power indices expressed in terms of minimal winning coalitions By László Á. Kóczy; Fabien Lange
  12. A communication game on electoral platforms By Demange, Gabrielle; Van Der Straeten, Karine
  13. The Political Economy of Fiscal Reform: The Case of Colombia, 1986-2006 By Mauricio Olivera; Monica Pachon; Guillermo Perry
  14. Kingmakers and leaders in coalition formation By Brams, Steven J.; Kilgour, D. Marc
  15. Growth and Development Under Alternative Corruption Regimes By Keith Blackburn; Yuanyuan Wang

  1. By: Niklas Potrafke
    Abstract: By examining voting behavior in a referendum on the construction of a concert hall in Germany, I show that political ideology influences cultural policy. The results suggest that resistance to the concert hall was particularly strong in electoral districts in which majorities of citizens vote for the social democrats. By contrast, constituents of rightwing parties voted more in favor of the project. This voting pattern indicates that cultural policy is ideologyinduced. The direct-democratic vote against the concert hall is not in line with the voting behavior of the representatives in the city council. My findings thus show that the voting behavior of political representatives may be decoupled from the preferences of their constituents even in closely knit jurisdictions in which the principal-agent relationship between voters and representatives is usually thought to favor the principals. Moreover, this decoupling has been documented for a policy issue that does not require substantial information or specialized knowledge to be evaluated but rather voters' decisions are based on ideological convictions.
    Keywords: cultural policy, ideology, partisan politics, referendum, direct democracy
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Blais, Andre; Laslier, Jean-François; Sauger, Nicolas; Van Der Straeten, Karine
    Abstract: We report on laboratory experiments on voting. In a setting where subjects have single-peaked preferences we find that the rational choice theory provides very good predictions of actual individual behavior in one-round and approval voting elections, but fares poorly in explaining vote choice under two-round elections. We conclude that voters behave strategically as far as strategic computations are not too demanding, in which case they rely on simple heuristics (in two-round elections) or they just vote sincerely (in single transferable vote elections).
    Date: 2009–07
  3. By: Colignatus, Thomas
    Abstract: No new issues are discussed but we try to improve on the didactics of some well-known elementary features of multiple seats elections that rely on a single vote such as common elections for Parliament or the U.S. Congress. The didactics concentrate on proportionality versus districts. Since some people in the UK want more proportionality and some people in Holland want more districts, the examples of the UK 2010 and Dutch 2006 general elections are developed in some detail. Subordinate issues are (1) majority versus plurality, and (2) threshold methods versus the mechanisms of highest average, greatest remainder and the principle of Sainte-Laguë & Webster. The latter can be optimal for apportionment of states or districts that will get at least one seat. That kind of optimality can be dubious for political parties. Firstly because a party with a majority in the turnout may miss out on majority in Parliament and secondly since voters for some party A may not want that their vote, if wasted, goes to some party B. A proportional representation of the wasted vote w in total n is also possible by leaving seats empty or by filling the seats and taking a qualified majority f = 1/2 * n / (n - w). We thus should distinguish the mirroring of the proportions in the vote and the mirroring of a majority (and it is not quite true that the first takes care of the latter). For a coalition formed after the elections there is the more complex threshold of a "coalition qualified majority" since the coalition may not always be a solid block. A compromise of proportionality and districts is to allow free (non-district) seats for the overflow. E.g. if half of the seats in Parliament are for single seat districts then the district size can be twice the electoral quota and a district candidate is (ideally) elected when gaining a majority of at least one quota. An algorithm is given that includes such rules and some simulations are shown. A multiple seats election is not quite the same as a series of single seat elections. Direct single seat elections such as for the chief executive (President) are riddled with voting paradoxes. Superior to a single vote are some methods with preference orderings like the Borda Fixed Point but these are somewhat complex. Optimal seems the indirect method where the electorate chooses Parliament in a single vote multiple seats election and that Parliament then applies the complexer preference methods for the single seat election of the Premier. For example, though voters only gave a single vote, David Cameron would be the Borda Fixed Point winner, second to Nick Clegg in a Borda count but still winning in a pairwise vote. It is also explained how to use some new routines in Mathematica.
    Keywords: Political economy; political science; public choice; optimal representation; electoral systems; elections; voting; district; proportional representation; electoral quota; majority; pure threshold; qualified majority; greatest remainder; highest average; Webster; Sainte-Laguë; apportionment; wasted vote; multiple seats; single seat; empty seat; free seat; additional-members system; mixed proportionality; political party; party list; coalition
    JEL: D71 C88 A2
    Date: 2010–05–12
  4. By: Brams, Steven J; Kilgour, D. Marc
    Abstract: We propose a new voting system, satisfaction approval voting (SAV), for multiwinner elections, in which voters can approve of as many candidates or as many parties as they like. However, the winners are not those who receive the most votes, as under approval voting (AV), but those who maximize the sum of the satisfaction scores of all voters, where a voter’s satisfaction score is the fraction of his or her approved candidates who are elected. SAV may give a different outcome from A--in fact, SAV and AV outcomes may be disjoint—but SAV generally chooses candidates representing more diverse interests than does AV (this is demonstrated empirically in the case of a recent election of the Game Theory Society). A decision-theoretic analysis shows that all strategies except approving of a least-preferred candidate are undominated, so voters will often find it optimal to approve of more than one candidate. In party-list systems, SAV apportions seats to parties according to the Jefferson/d’Hondt method with a quota constraint, which favors large parties and gives an incentive to smaller parties to coordinate their policies and forge alliances, even before an election, that reflect their supporters’ coalitional preferences.
    Keywords: multiwinner election; voting system; approval ballot; proportional representation; apportonment
    JEL: D71 D02 C70
    Date: 2010–04
  5. By: Saint-Paul, Gilles
    Date: 2009–05
  6. By: Attanasi, Giuseppe; Corazzini, Luca; Passarelli, Francesco
    Abstract: Voting is a lottery in which an individual who is uncertain about how the others vote wins if she belongs to the majority or loses if she falls into the minority. The risk of losing can be reduced by increasing the majority threshold. This however has the negative effect of also lowering the chance to win. We find that an individual prefers higher majority thresholds when she is more risk averse, less powerful, or less optimistic about the chance that others will vote like her. De facto, raising the majority threshold is a form of protection against the higher risk of being tyrannized by an unfavorable majority. We include these preferences for majority thresholds in a Nash bargaining game that describes constitutional negotiations over voting rules. Individuals that largely avert the risk of being tyrannized behave reluctantly during negotiations, and succeed in getting higher protection through a threshold raise.
    Keywords: majority rule, supermajority, risk aversion
    JEL: D72 D81 H11
    Date: 2009–11
  7. By: Alejandro Bonvecchi
    Abstract: This paper investigates the political economy of fiscal reform activism in Argentina since the late 1980s. Between 1988 and 2008, tax legislation was changed 83 times, fiscal federal rules 14 times, and budgetary institutions sixteen times. Tax and budgetary reforms moved from centralizing revenue sources and spending authority in the federal government to mild decentralization lately. Fiscal federal rules combined centralization of revenues and management in the federal government with short-term compensations for the provinces. This paper contends that reform activism can be explained by the recurrence of economic and policy shocks while reform patterns may be accounted for as consequences of the decreasing political integration of national parties in a polity whose decisionmaking rules encourage the formation of oversized coalitions. The decrease in political integration weakened the national party leaderships’ ability to coordinate intergovernmental bargaining, and strengthened the local bosses and factions needed to form oversized coalitions.
    Keywords: Public finance, Budget, Taxes, Federalism, Intergovernmental relations
    JEL: H77 H61 H20
    Date: 2010–05
  8. By: Casamatta, Georges; Gondim, Joao Luis
    Abstract: We assess the political support for parametric reforms of the Pay-As-You-Go pension system following a downward fertility shock. Using a continuous time overlapping generations model, we argue that reforms that consist in cutting pension benefits or increasing the retirement age are likely to receive a strong political support. An increase in the contribution rate has, on the contrary, fewer chances to be approved by the majority of the voters. This framework also allows to identify the costs and benefits of postponing each type of reform and to determine how the timing of the dierent reforms affects their political support.
    Keywords: Pay-As-You-Go, parametric reforms, fertility shock
    Date: 2009–10
  9. By: Pivato, Marcus; Nehring, Klaus
    Abstract: `Judgement aggregation' is a model of social choice where the space of social alternatives is the set of consistent truth-valuations (`judgements') on a family of logically interconnected propositions. It is well-known that propositionwise majority voting can yield logically inconsistent judgements. We show that, for a variety of spaces, propositionwise majority voting can yield any possible judgement. By considering the geometry of sub-polytopes of the Hamming cube, we also estimate the number of voters required to achieve all possible judgements. These results generalize the classic results of McGarvey (1953) and Stearns (1959).
    Keywords: judgement aggregation; majority vote; McGarvey; Stearns; 0/1 polytope; Hamming cube;
    JEL: D70
    Date: 2010–05–10
  10. By: László Á. Kóczy (Budapest Tech)
    Abstract: While they use the language of game theory the known measures of a priory voting power are hardly more than statistical expectations assuming the random behaviour of the players. Focusing on normalised indices we show that rational players would behave dierently from the indices' predictions and propose a model that captures such strategic behaviour. In our model players do not automatically participate in every winning coalition they are members of, but have the possibility to block the formation of such a coalition. The strategic use of such blocks can increase voting power, when the latter is dened over the game with the remaining winning coalitions. In our model players do not automatically participate in every winning coalition they are members of, but have the possibility to block the formation of such a coalition. The strategic use of such blocks can increase voting power, when the latter is defined over the game with the remaining winning coalitions.
    Keywords: Banzhaf index, Shapley-Shubik index, a priori voting power, rational players.
    Date: 2010
  11. By: László Á. Kóczy (Óbuda University); Fabien Lange (Óbuda University)
    Abstract: A voting situation is given by a set of voters and the rules of legislation that determine minimal requirements for a group of voters to pass a motion. A priori measures of voting power, such as the Shapley-Shubik index and the Banzhaf value, show the influence of the individual players. We used to calculate them by looking at marginal contributions in a simple game consisting of winning and losing coalitions derived from the rules of the legislation. We introduce a new way to calculate these measures directly from the set of minimal winning coalitions. This new approach logically appealing as it writes measures as functions of the rules of the legislation. For certain classes of games that arise naturally in applications the logical shortcut drastically simplifies calculations. The technique generalises directly to all semivalues. Keywords. Shapley-Shubik index, Banzhaf index, semivalue, minimal winning coalition, Möbius transform.
    Keywords: Shapley-Shubik index, Banzhaf index, semivalue, minimal winning coalition, Möbius transform.
    Date: 2010
  12. By: Demange, Gabrielle (Paris School of Economics (EHESS)); Van Der Straeten, Karine (Toulouse School of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper proposes a game to study strategic communication on platforms by parties. Parties’ platforms have been chosen in a multidimensional policy space, but are imperfectly known by voters. Parties strategically decide the emphasis they put on the various issues, and thus the precision of the information they convey to voters on their position on each issue. The questions we address are the following: what are the equilibria of this communication game? How many issues will they address? Will parties talk about the same issues or not? Will they talk on issues that they "own" or not?
    JEL: C70 D70
    Date: 2009–11–23
  13. By: Mauricio Olivera; Monica Pachon; Guillermo Perry
    Abstract: This paper explores the characteristics of the political economy process that conditioned the scope and success of the combination of fiscal reforms before and after Colombia’s 1991 constitutional reforms. Using formal analysis of reforms and interviews with actors, reforms in taxation, decentralization, the budgetary process and pensions are examined in times of political crisis, economic crisis, and economic boom. The results generally confirm the hypothesis that increased political fragmentation and limited unilateral executive power after the 1991 reforms restricted the extent of reforms, particularly in tax law. Nonetheless, the enactment of piecemeal reforms was encouraged by crisis conditions.
    Keywords: Policymaking process, Political economy, Structural reform, Colombia
    JEL: H20 H71 H77
    Date: 2010–05
  14. By: Brams, Steven J.; Kilgour, D. Marc
    Abstract: Assume that players strictly rank each other as coalition partners. We propose a procedure whereby they “fall back” on their preferences, yielding internally compatible, or coherent, majority coalition(s), which we call fallback coalitions. If there is more than one fallback coalition, the players common to them, or kingmakers, determine which fallback coalition will form. The first player(s) acceptable to all other members of a fallback coalition are the leader(s) of that coalition. The effects of different preference assumption--particularly, different kinds of single-peakedness--and of player weights on the number of coherent coalitions, their connectedness, and which players become kingmakers and leaders are investigated. The fallback procedure may be used (i) empirically to identify kingmakers and leaders or (ii) normatively to select them. We illustrate and test the model by applying it to coalition formation on the U.S. Supreme Court, 2005-2009, which shows the build-up over stages of a conservative coalition that prevailed in nearly half of the 5-4 decisions.
    Keywords: coalition formation; fallback procedure; kingmakers; leaders; US Supreme Court
    JEL: D72 C7 D85
    Date: 2010–03
  15. By: Keith Blackburn; Yuanyuan Wang
    Abstract: Empirical observation suggests that not all countries of the world have suffered as a result of widespread corruption. Whilst many countries have undoubtedly been damaged considerably, others appear to have coped well - in some cases, very well - with the problem. The analysis that follows seeks to provide an explanation for this puzzle. It does so by differentiating alternative types of corruption regime according to the way that corruption is practised. Speci?cally, we distinguish between organised and disorganised, collusive and non collusive corruption. This gives four possible scenarios, the implications of which are compared and contrasted to provide a ranking of regimes in terms of their impact on growth. We ?nd that the least (most) damaging regime is one in which corruption is both organised and collusive (disorganised and non-collusive), as broadly characterises the situation in China and its fast-growing neighbours (many African countries).
    Date: 2010

This nep-pol issue is ©2010 by Eugene Beaulieu. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.