nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2017‒12‒18
nineteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Did the Egyptian protests lead to change? Evidence from Egypt's first free Presidential elections By Nelly El-Mallakh
  2. Consensus in the 2015 Provincial Parliament Election in Styria, Austria: Voting Rules,Outcomes, and the Condorcet Paradox By Andreas Darmann; Julia Grundner; Christian Klamler
  3. To the Victor Belongs the Spoils? Party Membership and Public Sector Employment in Brazil By Brollo, Fernanda; Forquesato, Pedro; Gozzi, Juan Carlos
  4. Confirmation bias and signaling in Downsian elections By Antony Millner; Hélène Ollivier; Leo Simon
  5. Echo Chambers: Voter-to-Voter Communication and Political Competition By Monica Anna Giovanniello
  6. Supra National, National and Regional Dimensions of Voter Turnout in European Parliament Elections By Nadia Fiorino; Nicola Pontarollo; Roberto Ricciuti
  7. Political Colleagues Matter: The Impact of Multiple Office-Holding on Intergovernmental Grants By Brice Fabre
  8. Decentralization and Accountability in Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from Rural China By Pesqué-Cela, Vanesa
  9. Generalized Trust and Media Consumption in Democratic and Nondemocratic Societies By Olesya Volchenko; Anna Shirokanova
  10. Change in Economic Policy Paradigm: Privatization and State Capture in Poland By Piotr Kozarzewski; Maciej Ba³towski
  11. How do voters respond to information on self-serving elite behaviour? Evidence from a randomized survey experiment in Tanzania By Ivar Kolstad; Arne Wiig
  12. Tweeting for Peace: Experimental Evidence from the 2016 Colombian Plebiscite By Jorge Gallego; Juan D. Martínez; Kevin Munger; Mateo Vásquez
  13. Do Individual Heterogeneity and Spatial Correlation Matter? An Innovative Approach to the Characterisation of the European Political Space By Giovanna, Iannantuoni; Elena, Manzoni; Francesca, Rossi;
  14. Politicized Trade: What Drives Withdrawal of Trade Preferences? By Gassebner, Martin; Gnutzmann-Mkrtchyan, Arevik
  15. Robust Voting under Uncertainty By NAKADA, Satoshi; NITZAN, Shmuel; UI, Takashi
  16. On the Optimal Majority Rule By Compte, Olivier; Jehiel, Philippe
  17. Turning against the union? The impact of the crisis on the Eurosceptic vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections By Hobolt, Sara B.; de Vries, Catherine E.
  18. One Mandarin benefits the whole clan: hometown favoritism in an authoritarian regime By Do, Quoc-Anh; Nguyen, Kieu-Trang; Tran, Anh N.
  19. Clientelism: Concepts, Agents, and Solutions By Jorge Gallego; Leonard Wantchekon

  1. By: Nelly El-Mallakh (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Did the Egyptian protests lead to political change? I examine the effects of the first and second waves of Egyptian protests that started in 2011, on voting outcomes during Egypt's first free Presidential elections that took place between May and June 2012. I geocoded the “martyrs” - demonstrators who died during the protests - using unique information from the Statistical Database of the Egyptian Revolution and exploited the variation in districts' exposure to the Egyptian protests. Using official elections' results collected from the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) and controlling for districts' characteristics using Census data, I find suggestive evidence that higher exposure to protests' intensity leads to a higher share of votes for former regime candidates, both during the first and second rounds of Egypt's first presidential elections after the uprisings. From the period of euphoria following the toppling of Mubarak to the sobering realities of the political transition process, I find that protests led to a conservative backlash, alongside negative economic expectations, general dissatisfaction with government performance, decreasing levels of trust towards public institutions, and increasing recognition of limitations on civil and political liberties.
    Keywords: Egyptian protests,Presidential elections,voting outcomes,martyrs
    Date: 2017–10
  2. By: Andreas Darmann (University of Graz, Austria); Julia Grundner (University of Graz, Austria); Christian Klamler (University of Graz, Austria)
    Abstract: Theoretical differences between different voting rules have been well-studied, and several paradoxical situations are known. For instance, the use of different voting rules not only can lead to different winners for the same preference profile, but also might the winner under one voting rule be the loser under another voting rule. Also, cyclic collective preferences – as in Condorcet cycles – can make it impossible to determine the winner of an election under a specific voting rule in use. Based on data collected in an online-survey in connection with the 2015 parliament election in the Austrian federal state of Styria, we provide an empirical analysis of whether different voting rules yield different outcomes in real-world elections, and whether paradoxical situations show up in real-world data. For our findings, we generate statistical confidence levels by the use of a nonparametric bootstrap.
    Keywords: Election; Voting rules; Empirical study; Condorcet
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2017–12
  3. By: Brollo, Fernanda (University of Warwick, CAGE and CEPR); Forquesato, Pedro (PUC-Rio); Gozzi, Juan Carlos (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We analyze how political discretion affects the selection of government workers, using individual-level data on political party membership and matched employer-employee data on the universe of formal workers in Brazil. Exploiting close mayoral races, we find that winning an election leads to an increase of over 40% in the number of members of the winning party working in the municipal bureaucracy. Employment of members of the ruling party increases relatively more in senior positions, but also expands in lower-ranked jobs, suggesting that discretionary appointments are used both to influence policymaking and to reward supporters. We find that party members hired after their party is elected tend be of similar or even higher quality than members of the runner-up party, contrary to common perceptions that political appointees are less qualified. Moreover, the increased public employment of members of the ruling party is long-lasting, extending beyond the end of the mayoral term.
    Keywords: bureaucracy, patronage, political parties, public sector employment JEL Classification: D72, D73, H70, J45
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Antony Millner (LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science); Hélène Ollivier (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Leo Simon (University of California [Berkeley])
    Abstract: How do voters' behavioural biases affect political outcomes? We study this question in a model of Downsian electoral competition in which office-motivated candidates have private information about the benefits of policies, and voters may infer candidates' information from their electoral platforms. If voters are Bayesian, candidates have strategic incentives to `anti-pander' { they choose platforms that are more extreme than is justified by their private beliefs. However, anti-pandering incentives are ameliorated if voters'inferences are subject to confirmation bias. Voter confirmation bias can thus counteract distortions due to the strategic interaction between candidates, potentially leading to welfare improvements. Indeed, we show that all observers, whether biased or Bayesian, would like the representative voter in our model to exhibit more confirmation bias than they do themselves.
    Keywords: JEL Codes: D72,signaling,electoral competition,pandering,D91 Keywords: Confirmation bias
    Date: 2017–11–09
  5. By: Monica Anna Giovanniello
    Abstract: I investigate, in a model of informative campaign advertising, how the ability of voters to strategically communicate with each other shapes the advertising strategies of two competing parties. Two main results are put forward. First, information does not travel among voters biased toward different parties even if they are ideologically close â âecho chambersâ arise endogenously. Second, whenever the probability of interaction among like-minded voters is low (low homophily), parties tailor their advertising on their opponentâs supporters rather than on swing or core states voters.
    JEL: D72 D83 M37 P16
    Date: 2017–11–21
  6. By: Nadia Fiorino (University of L'Aquila); Nicola Pontarollo (European Commission – JRC); Roberto Ricciuti (University of Verona and CESifo)
    Abstract: We argue that the decision to vote in European Parliamentary (EP) elections lies at the intersection of three political dimensions: one related to the attitude of citizens towards the European Union, one to the characteristics of the national political system, and the third associated with socio-economic variables observed by voters at the local level. This paper investigates this intersection by analyzing the last four EP elections in the EU-14, for 164 regions. We test a multilevel model. The results indicate a significant role of compulsory voting, domestic political cleavages, labor market conditions and trust in the EU. No evidence is found that GDP per capita affects turnout. Finally, the oldest segment of population seems more prone to vote than the youngest.
    Keywords: European Parliamentary elections, voter turnout, subnational variation, multilevel model
    JEL: O4 O53 C21 C23
    Date: 2017–11
  7. By: Brice Fabre (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: This paper brings new evidence on the politics of intergovernmental grants. I focus on multiple office-holding (i.e. whether a local incumbent who has concurrently a seat at an upper layer of government gets more funds from this layer). By using a new panel database on French local governments’ accounts, I focus on grants counties allocate to municipalities. For identification, I rely on close electoral races. I find that aligned multiple office-holders (mayors who also have a seat in the majority group of the county council) get on average 28% more grants for their municipality than other municipal incumbents. Evidence on the heterogeneity of this effect suggests that grantors’ information on potential recipients, as well as local incumbents’ access to upper layers politicians, are key determinants in the allocation of intergovernmental transfers.
    Keywords: Intergovernmental transfers,Multiple Office-Holding,Regression Discontinuity Design,Political Parties
    Date: 2017–09
  8. By: Pesqué-Cela, Vanesa (School of Finance and Management, SOAS University of London & Stockholm China Economic Research Institute)
    Abstract: Can political decentralization and the introduction of local elections improve government accountability and public goods provision in a non-democratic regime like China? Political decentralization reforms in China have only been implemented at the village level, and have been implemented unevenly across villages. Villages differ substantially in terms of the quality of their elections and the amount of power given to (or taken away from) their popularly elected village committees. In light of these differences, this paper investigates the relationship between political decentralization processes and government performance in the rural Chinese context, by addressing the question of whether democratically elected village committees are more responsive to villagers’ demands for better infrastructure in their communities, when given the power to govern. To explain differences among villages in terms of whether and how much they invest in new infrastructure, a tobit model of village-financed investment is estimated using cross-sectional survey data collected from over 100 villages. Results from the regression analysis indicate that variation in the degree of political decentralization is positively associated with variation in the level of public goods investment across villages: villages governed by democratically elected village committees tend to invest more in new infrastructures. These results are robust to the endogeneity between governance and public goods provision. Our findings from rural China illustrate the potential and limitations of political decentralization reforms to enhance government accountability in non-democratic regimes. In some communities, they have improved government performance, but in many others they have failed to make elected local governments accountable to citizens because they have failed to devolve authority and resources to them in the first place. The challenge thus is not only to make decentralization work but, more fundamentally, to make decentralization happen.
    Keywords: Decentralization; accountability; public goods provision; China
    JEL: H41 H70
    Date: 2017–12–01
  9. By: Olesya Volchenko (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Anna Shirokanova (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: Generalized trust is an information- and risk-based resource enabling communication in modern society. Mass media channels can reduce or increase generalized trust, but their effects are dependent on the social context. The purpose of this paper is to examine how different types of media consumption are related to generalized social trust under democratic and nondemocratic regimes. In modern societies generalized trust and mass media serve as mechanisms to overcome information-based uncertainty. We propose and investigate hypotheses on how the relation between news media consumption and social trust differs in democratic and nondemocratic societies. Using multilevel regression modelling on the nationally representative World Values Survey data from more than 75,000 people in 53 countries across the world (2011-2014) and international democracy indices, we look into the interactive effects of regular use of the Internet and television news and generalized trust in democratic and nondemocratic countries. The results show that, irrelevant of the political regime, regular news consumption from television is associated with lower trust to strangers. However, using Internet news in nondemocratic countries is linked with an additional decrease in trust to strangers. We discuss how these findings run against the argument of the bridging effect of the Internet in nondemocratic countries and support the mean-world hypothesis irrelevant of the political regime
    Keywords: generalized trust, social trust, media consumption, news, Internet, television, political regime, multilevel modelling, the DD index, Freedom House status.
    JEL: Z13
    Date: 2017
  10. By: Piotr Kozarzewski; Maciej Ba³towski
    Abstract: Kozarzewski and Ba³towski analyse the causes and manifestations of this trend in economic policy in Poland. They use privatization policy as an example. The authors examine the effects of the privatization policy and point to a large unfinished agenda in ownership transformation that has had an adverse impact on the institutional setup of the Polish state, creating grounds for rent seeking and cronyism, which, in turn, impede the pace of privatization. They find out that it is the increasing capture of the state by rent-seeking groups, and not, contrary to popular opinion, the global financial crisis, that most contributes to the growing statist trends of Poland’s economic policy.
    Keywords: Poland, privatization, economic policy, post-communist transition, crony capitalism, rent seeking, role of the state
    JEL: D72 L33 P16 P31
    Date: 2016
  11. By: Ivar Kolstad; Arne Wiig
    Abstract: Does self-serving elite behaviour make citizens more politically active? This paper presents the results of a randomized field experiment where voters in Tanzania were given information about elite use of tax havens. Information provided in a neutral form had no effect on voting intentions. Information phrased in more morally charged terms led to a reduction in voting intentions. Additional evidence suggests that rather than increase the perceived importance of voting, charged information tends to undermine confidence in political institutions and the social contract. The effects are particularly pronounced among the less well off, indicating that increased transparency in the absence of perceived agency may not improve democratic accountability.
    Date: 2016
  12. By: Jorge Gallego; Juan D. Martínez; Kevin Munger; Mateo Vásquez
    Abstract: The decades-long Colombian civil war nearly came to an official end with the 2016 Peace Plebiscite, which was ultimately defeated in a narrow vote. This conflict has deeply divided Colombian civil society, and non-political public figures have played a crucial role in structuring debate on the topic. To understand the mechanisms underlying the influence of members of civil society on political discussion, we performed a randomized experiment on Colombian Twitter users shortly before this election. Sampling from a pool of subjects who had been frequently tweeting about the Plebiscite, we tweeted messages that encouraged subjects to consider different aspects of the decision. We varied the identity (a general, a scientist, and a priest) of the accounts we used and the content of the messages we sent. We found little evidence that any of our interventions were successful in persuading subjects to change their attitudes. However, we show that our pro-Peace messages encouraged liberal Colombians to engage in significantly more public deliberation on the subject.
    Date: 2017–11–30
  13. By: Giovanna, Iannantuoni; Elena, Manzoni; Francesca, Rossi;
    Abstract: In this paper we refine the interpretation of the European two-dimensional political space and the investigation of its determinants compared to the approach commonly adopted in the spatial voting literature. Specifically, we take into account heterogeneity and cross-correlation among legislators by explicitly including into the model a spatial effect which, in turn, relies on new sets of linguistic, geographical, institutional and cultural metrics. We confirm that the first dimension of the European political space is mainly explained by the Members of European Parliament's ideological position on a left-right scale. We also find that correlation across legislators plays a significant role in explaining the first dimension when their pairwise distance is defined according to an individualism index, which turns out to be closely related to left-right ideology positioning. Even more interestingly, we show that "space" intended in a broad economic sense plays an important role in interpreting the second dimension of the political spectrum. The most relevant metric that induces spatial effects along the second dimension is based on an institutional index. Moreover, we also find that the second dimension is influenced by the gender composition of the political parties.
    Keywords: European political space, spatial autoregressions, NOMINATE, proximity matrices, economic distances
    JEL: D72 C21
    Date: 2017–12–06
  14. By: Gassebner, Martin; Gnutzmann-Mkrtchyan, Arevik
    Abstract: While it is well understood that industrialized countries use aid to grant political favors, little research covers alternative channels such as trade policy towards developing countries. We analyze eligibility investigations and revoking of U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits to see whether political friends of the U.S. receive favorable treatment. While countries politically aligned with the U.S. are equally likely to be investigated, they are significantly less likely to have their benefits suspended.
    Keywords: Trade Policy; Development; Generalized System of Preferences; United Nations General Assembly
    JEL: F13 F53 O19 O24
    Date: 2017–11
  15. By: NAKADA, Satoshi; NITZAN, Shmuel; UI, Takashi
    Abstract: This paper proposes normative consequentialist criteria for voting rules under Knightian uncertainty about individual preferences to characterize a weighted majority rule (WMR). The criteria stress the significance of responsiveness, i.e., the probability that the social outcome coincides with the realized individual preferences. A voting rule is said to be robust if, for any probability distribution of preferences, responsiveness of at least one individual is greater than one-half. Our main result establishes that a voting rule is robust if and only if it is a WMR without ties. This characterization of a WMR avoiding the worst possible outcomes complements the well-known characterization of a WMR achieving the optimal outcomes, i.e., efficiency regarding responsiveness.
    Keywords: majority rule, weighted majority rule, responsiveness, Knightian uncertainty
    JEL: D71 D81
    Date: 2017–12
  16. By: Compte, Olivier; Jehiel, Philippe
    Abstract: We develop a simple model that rationalizes why less stringent majority rules are preferable to unanimity in large committees. Proposals are randomly generated and the running proposal is adopted whenever it is approved by a sufficiently large share of voters. Unanimity induces excessive delays while too weak majority requirements induce the adoption of suboptimal proposals. The optimal majority rule balances these two inefficiencies: it requires the approval by a share equal to the probability (assumed to be constant across proposals) that a given member gets more than the average welfare associated with the running proposal. Various extensions are considered.
    Date: 2017–12
  17. By: Hobolt, Sara B.; de Vries, Catherine E.
    Abstract: The 2014 European Parliament elections were held against the backdrop of the worst economic crisis in post-war Europe. The elections saw an unprecedented surge in support for Eurosceptic parties. This raises the question of whether the crisis, and the EU's response to it, can explain the rise of Eurosceptic parties. Our analysis of the 2014 European Election Study demonstrates that the degree to which individuals were adversely affected by the crisis and their discontent with the EU's handling of the crisis are major factors in explaining defection from mainstream pro-European to Eurosceptic parties in these elections. This suggests that far from being second-order national elections concerned only with domestic politics, European issues had a significant impact on vote choices.
    Keywords: Elections; European Parliament; Crisis; Economic voting; Euroscepticism
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2016–12–01
  18. By: Do, Quoc-Anh; Nguyen, Kieu-Trang; Tran, Anh N.
    Abstract: We study patronage politics in authoritarian Vietnam, using an exhaustive panel of ranking officials from 2000 to 2010 to estimate their promotions’ impact on infrastructure in their hometowns of patrilineal ancestry. Native officials’ promotions lead to a broad range of hometown infrastructure improvement. Hometown favoritism is pervasive across all ranks, even among officials without budget authority, except among elected legislators. Favors are narrowly targeted toward small communes that have no political power, and are strengthened with bad local governance and strong local family values. The evidence suggests a likely motive of social preferences for hometown.
    JEL: J1 N0
    Date: 2017
  19. By: Jorge Gallego; Leonard Wantchekon
    Abstract: In this chapter, we discuss some of the main issues pertaining to the literature on political clientelism. After defining some of the basic concepts associated with this topic, we support the claim that much of the literature has excessively focused on the problem of vote buying, while ignoring other (perhaps) more important aspects of the process, such as patronage and prebendalism. Afterwards, we underscore the importance that brokers and clientelistic networks have in order to understand the structure of patronclient relationships. Finally, we review some of the short- and medium-term solutions to the problem that have been explored mainly through experimental methods, which include mechanisms related to institutions, deliberation, and information.
    Date: 2017–11–30

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