nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2016‒10‒02
fifteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Legislative Cycles in Semipresidential Systems By Nicolas GAVOILLE; Fabio PADOVANO
  2. The Welfare Economics of Tactical Voting in Democracies: A Partial Identification Equilibrium Analysis By Herman Demeze; Issofa Moyouwou; Roland Pongou
  3. Valuing Peace: The Effects of Financial Market Exposure on Votes and Political Attitudes By Jha, Saumitra; Shayo, Moses
  4. The third vote experiment: VAA-based election to enhance policy representation of the KIT student parliament By Tangian, Andranik S.
  5. Opportunistic candidates and knowledgeable voters: A recipe for extreme views By Benček, David
  6. Valence influence in electoral competition with rank objectives By Alexander, Shapoval; Alexei, Zakharov; Weber, Shlomo
  7. Local elections, political fragmentation, and service delivery in Indonesia By Blane Lewis
  8. Electoral competition and political selection: An analysis of the activity of French deputies, 1958-2012 By Nicolas GAVOILLE; Marijn VERSCHELDE
  9. The Political Economy of Liberal Democracy By Mukand, Sharun; Rodrik, Dani
  10. Pre-primary News Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Race: Trump's Rise, Sanders' Emergence, Clinton's Struggle By Patterson, Thomas E.
  11. Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization By Martin, Gregory J.; Yurukoglu, Ali
  12. Electoral Cycles Among U.S. Courts of Appeals Judges By Berdejo, Carlos; Chen, Daniel L.
  13. The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers By Bonica, Adam; Chilton, Adam S.; Sen, Maya
  14. Reform Fatigue By Bowen, T. Renee; Chan, Jackie M. L.; Dube, Oeindrila; Lambert, Nicolas S.
  15. Foreign agents? Natural resources & the political economy of civil society By Breyel, Corinna; Grigoriadis, Theocharis

  1. By: Nicolas GAVOILLE (Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Latvia - Condorcet Center, University Rennes 1, France); Fabio PADOVANO (CREM-CNRS and Condorcet Center, University Rennes 1, France - Department of Political Sciences, University Roma Tre, Italy)
    Abstract: The Political Legislation Cycle theory predicts a peak of legislative production in the pre-electoral period, when the legislator focuses on voters’ welfare to be reelected. This paper tests the theory on the French semipresidential system, characterized by direct election of both the executive and the legislature. We use a dataset that encompasses all the approved voted legis-lation in France from 1959 to 2012 at a monthly rate, and find a dual cycle of the production of laws, connected to both the presidential and the legislative elections.
    Keywords: Political Legislation Cycle - Legislative production - Economic theory of legislation -Semipresidential government system - Hierarchical Poisson regression
    JEL: D72 C49 H61 H62
    Date: 2016–05
  2. By: Herman Demeze (Department of Economics, University of Bielefeld); Issofa Moyouwou (École Normale Supérieure (UYI) and THEMA, Department of Economics of Université de Cergy Pontoise); Roland Pongou (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa)
    Abstract: The fact that voters can manipulate election outcomes by misrepresenting their true preferences over competing political parties or candidates is commonly viewed as a major law of democratic voting systems. It is argued that insincere voting typically leads to suboptimal voting outcomes. However, it is also understood that insincere voting is rational behavior as it may result in the election of a candidate preferred by the voter to the candidate who would otherwise be selected. The relative magnitude of the welfare gains and losses of those who benefit from and those adversely affected by insincere voting behavior is consequently an important empirical issue. We address this question by providing exact asymptotic bounds on the welfare effects, in equilibrium, of insincere voting for an infinite class of democratic rules. We find, for instance, that preference manipulation benefits one-half to two-thirds of the population in three-candidate elections held under first-past-the-post, and one-third to one-hundred percent of the population in antiplurality elections. These bounds differ from those obtained under out-of-equilibrium manipulation. Our partial identification analysis provides a novel approach to evaluating mechanisms as a function of attitude towards risk, and it has practical implications for the choice of election rules by a mechanism designer facing a worst-case or a best-case objective. It also provides a new answer to the longstanding question of why certain rules, such as first-past-the-post, are more common in practice.
    Keywords: Democracy, tactical voting, political equilibrium, social welfare, mechanism design, worst-case-scenario, best-case-scenario, partial identification
    JEL: D60 D72 D81 H41 P48
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Jha, Saumitra (Stanford University); Shayo, Moses (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
    Abstract: Financial markets expose individuals to the broader economy. Does participation in financial markets also lead citizens to re-evaluate the costs of conflict, their views on politics and even their voting decisions? Prior to the 2015 Israeli elections, we randomly assigned financial assets from Israeli and Palestinian companies to likely voters and gave them incentives to actively trade for up to seven weeks. Exposure to financial markets systematically shifted vote choices and increased support for peace initiatives. We delineate the mechanisms for this change and show that financial market exposure led to learning and reevaluation of the economic costs of conflict.
    JEL: C93 D72 D74 N20 O12
    Date: 2016–08
  4. By: Tangian, Andranik S.
    Abstract: Since voters are often swayed more by the personal image of politicians than by party manifestos, they may cast votes that are in opposition to their policy preferences. This results in the election of representatives who do not correspond exactly to the voters' own views. An alternative voting procedure to avoid this type of election failure is proposed in [Tangian 2016a, Tangian 2016b]. It is based on the approach implemented in internet voting advice applications, like the German Wahl-O-Mat, which asks the user a number of questions on topical policy issues; the computer program, drawing on all the parties' answers, finds for the user the best-matching party, the second-best-matching party, etc. Under the proposed alternative election method, the voters cast no direct votes. Rather, they are asked about their preferences on the policy issues as declared in the party manifestos (Introduce nationwide minimum wage? Yes/No; Introduce a speed limit on the motorways? Yes/No, etc.), which reveals the balance of public opinion on each issue. These embedded referenda measure the degree to which the parties' policies match the preferences of the electorate. The parliament seats are then distributed among the parties in proportion to their indices of popularity (the average percentage of the population represented on all the issues) and universality (frequency in representing a majority). This paper reports on an experimental application of this method during the election of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Student Parliament on July 4-8, 2016. The experiment shows that the alternative election method can increase the representativeness of the Student Parliament. We also discuss some traits and bottlenecks of the method that should be taken into account when preparing elections.
    Keywords: policy representation,representative democracy,direct democracy,elections,coalitions,theory of voting
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2016
  5. By: Benček, David
    Abstract: In recent years, a number of Western industrialized nations have experienced a notable polarization of political ideologies, and growing numbers of individuals seemingly support extreme positions. As a result, established political parties have moved to the left or right and new parties have appeared on the fringes. But why are people with extreme political views this visible in the public debate, and how are they able to move party positions further to the margins when they should be outnumbered by a moderate majority? Contradictory to the classic literature that focuses on collective action problems, this paper studies emerging effects from informational asymmetries. It extends a spatial voting model to include incompletely informed candidates and knowledgeable voters. Agent-based simulations suggest that only fringe voters benefit from distorting their opinions and dominating political discourse. At the same time, better informed candidates have a competitive advantage in elections no matter how strongly voters distort their positions.
    Keywords: spatial voting,heterogeneous actors,extreme opinions,agent-based modelling
    JEL: C63 D02 D72
    Date: 2016
  6. By: Alexander, Shapoval; Alexei, Zakharov; Weber, Shlomo
    Abstract: In this paper we examine the effects of valence in a continuous spatial voting model between two incumbent parties and one potential entrant. All parties are rank-motivated and are driven by their place in the electoral competition. One of our main results is that a sufficiently wide valence gap between the incumbents yields an equilibrium in which no entry will occur. We also show that an increase in valence shifts the high-valence incumbent party closer to the median voter, while the low-valence incumbent selects a more extreme platform.
    Keywords: Candidates; Distribution of Ideal Points.; Electoral equilibrium; Electoral Game; Rank Objectives; Valence
    JEL: C72 D72
    Date: 2016–09
  7. By: Blane Lewis
    Abstract: This study examines the impact of local elections on public service delivery in Indonesia, focusing particular attention on the interaction between directly elected executives and politically fragmented parliaments. The investigation considers two common measures of political fragmentation: the number of parliament seats and the number of political parties in parliament. The analysis finds that the impact of direct elections on service access is not conditional on parliament size but that it is significantly dependent on the number of political parties represented in parliament. When parliaments comprise a small number of political parties the impact of direct elections on service delivery is positive; as the number of parties grows election benefits decline; and when the proliferation of political parties becomes particularly pronounced the influence of direct elections on service outcomes turns negative. Evidence suggests that the adverse impact of direct elections at high levels of party proliferation may be due to increased difficulties in achieving government-wide consensus on planning and executing expenditure budgets and an associated decline in spending.
    Keywords: local government, elections, political fragmentation, public service delivery, regression discontinuity, Indonesia
    JEL: H72 H75 H76
    Date: 2016
  8. By: Nicolas GAVOILLE (Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Latvia - Condorcet Center, University Rennes 1, France); Marijn VERSCHELDE (EISEG School of Management, Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods, France, and Center for Economic Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)
    Abstract: In this paper, we study the relation between electoral competition and po-litical selection, using a unique dataset containing detailed yearly information about members of the French National Assembly from 1958 to 2012. First, we innovate by using activity as a proxy for politicians’ quality. As we gathered information on the many aspects of deputies’ individual work, we use a non-parametric composite indicator of deputy activity that fully acknowledges the multidimensional nature of parliamentary work. Second, we do not impose any assumption about the relationship between electoral competition and political selection by using a fully nonparametric framework. Third, this method allows studying the evolution of the relationship between electoral competition and political selection over time. Overall, our results show that deputies elected in apriori contested districts have a higher overall activity, with the intensity of this relationship reaching its peak in the 80’s but constantly decreasing since then.
    Keywords: Competition, Election, Political Selection, Kernel Regression, Nonparametric Econometrics
    JEL: D72 J45 C14
    Date: 2016–09
  9. By: Mukand, Sharun (University of Warwick); Rodrik, Dani (Harvard University)
    Abstract: We distinguish between three sets of rights - property rights, political rights, and civil rights - and provide a taxonomy of political regimes. The distinctive nature of liberal democracy is that it protects civil rights (equality before the law for minorities) in addition to the other two. Democratic transitions are typically the product of a settlement between the elite (who care mostly about property rights) and the majority (who care mostly about political rights). Such settlements rarely produce liberal democracy, as the minority has neither the resources nor the numbers to make a contribution at the bargaining table. We develop a formal model to sharpen the contrast between electoral and liberal democracies and highlight circumstances under which liberal democracy can emerge. We discuss informally the difference between social mobilizations sparked by industrialization and decolonization. Since the latter revolve around identity cleavages rather than class cleavages, they are less conducive to liberal politics.
    Date: 2015–09
  10. By: Patterson, Thomas E. (Harvard University)
    Abstract: What's the best predictor of which candidate will win the presidential nomination? The winner of the Iowa caucus? The winner of the New Hampshire primary? Actually neither is as good an indicator as the winner of what political scientists call "the invisible primary"--the period before a single primary or caucus vote is cast. A fast start in Iowa or New Hampshire is important. A candidate with a poor showing in both states is in trouble. Voters aren't interested, donors aren't interested, and reporters aren't interested in a candidate who finishes at the back of the pack. Yet, more often than not, the winner in Iowa has lost in New Hampshire. Since 1980, of the twelve open nominating races--those without an incumbent president seeking reelection--only Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 won both contests. In 1992, the eventual Democratic nominee, Bill Clinton, lost both, though he ran well enough in the two states to be seen as a viable candidate.
    Date: 2016–06
  11. By: Martin, Gregory J. (Emory University); Yurukoglu, Ali (Stanford University)
    Abstract: We jointly measure the persuasive effects of slanted news and tastes for like-minded news. The key ingredient is using channel positions as exogenous shifters of cable news viewership. Local cable positions affect viewership by cable subscribers. They do not correlate with viewership by local satellite subscribers, who are observably similar to cable subscribers. We estimate a model of voters who select into watching slanted news, and whose ideologies evolve as a result. We estimate that Fox News increases the likelihood of voting Republican by 0.9 points among viewers induced into watching four additional minutes per week by differential channel positions.
    Date: 2016–05
  12. By: Berdejo, Carlos; Chen, Daniel L.
    Abstract: We find field evidence for what experimental studies have documented regarding the contexts and characteristics that make individuals more susceptible to priming. Just before U.S. Presidential elections, judges on the U.S. Courts of Appeals double the rate at which they dissent and vote along partisan lines. Increases are accentuated for judges with less experience and in ideologically polarized environments. During periods of national reconciliation—wartime, for example—judges suppress dissents, again, especially by judges with less experience and in ideologically polarized environments. We show the dissent rate increases gradually from 6% to nearly 12% in the quarter before an election and returns immediately to 6% after the election. That highly experienced professionals making common law precedent can be politically primed raises questions about the perceived impartiality of the judiciary. We cannot rule out the possibility that judges—who profess to be unbiased—are intentionally biased, which also raises the question of intentional bias of professionals who claim to be unbiased.
    Date: 2016–09
  13. By: Bonica, Adam (Stanford University); Chilton, Adam S. (University of Chicago); Sen, Maya (Harvard University)
    Abstract: The ideology of American lawyers has been a persistent source of discussion and debate. Two obstacles, however, have prevented this topic from being systematically studied: the sheer number of attorneys in the United States and the need for a methodology that makes comparing the ideology of specific individuals possible. In this paper, we present a comprehensive mapping of lawyers' ideologies that has overcome these hurdles. We use a new dataset that links the largest database of political ideology with the largest database of lawyers' identities to complete the most extensive analysis of the political ideology of American lawyers ever conducted.
    Date: 2015–08
  14. By: Bowen, T. Renee (Stanford University); Chan, Jackie M. L. (Chinese University of Hong Kong); Dube, Oeindrila (NYU); Lambert, Nicolas S. (Stanford University)
    Abstract: We present a rational theory of reform fatigue. At each instant a politician chooses to divide effort between reforms and the status quo, and this choice is modeled as a two-armed bandit problem. Reforms are expected to yield a higher rate of output to the voter than the status quo conditional on the politician being competent. We interpret competence as the administrative ability to ensure successful implementation of reforms. The politician's competence is therefore unknown ex-ante to both the politician and the voter. In addition the voter is unable to observe the politician's effort on reform, but only observes aggregate output. In equilibrium the voter gives the politician endogenous term lengths that depend on the timing of success. The executive experiments with reforms at the beginning of his first term, but gradually decreases the rate of reforms in the absence of early success. We call this gradual reduction in experimentation reform fatigue. The theory thus predicts that reform fatigue follows a political cycle. We provide empirical evidence of reform fatigue cycles in financial policies among presidential countries.
    Date: 2016–03
  15. By: Breyel, Corinna; Grigoriadis, Theocharis
    Abstract: Resource-rich dictatorships are more inclined to repress civil society than others. In this paper, we identify a tradeoff between political rents from natural resources and the organizational density of civil society. This organizational density determines the extent to which citizens can threaten the dictator with a revolution. We find that, in the occurrence of a negative oil price shock, regime change becomes likely, whereas a positive oil shock increases the extractive capacity of the dictator. When a negative oil price shock occurs, the persecution of failed revolutionaries can prevent revolution if the probability of revolutionary success is already low ex-ante. Historical and contemporary illustrations are drawn from Iran, the Soviet Union/Russia and Egypt.
    Keywords: natural resources,dictatorship,civil society,organizational density,persecution
    JEL: C73 P36 P48 P51 Q34
    Date: 2016

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