nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2018‒02‒12
ten papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Analysis of Present Day Election Processes vis-à-vis Elections Through Blockchain Technology By Hegadekatti, Kartik
  2. Natural Resources and Political Patronage in Africa: An Ethnicity Level Analysis By Nemera Mamo; Sambit Bhattacharyya
  3. The closer the better? Institutional distance and information blurring in a political agency model By David Bartolini; Agnese Sacchi; Domenico Scalera; Alberto Zazzaro
  4. How do voters respond to information on self-serving elite behaviour? Evidence from a randomized survey experiment in Tanzania By Ivar Kolstad; Arne Wiig
  5. Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China By Xue, Melanie Meng; Koyama, Mark
  6. Rainfall Inequality, Political Power, and Ethnic Conflict in Africa By Andrea Guariso; Thorsten Rogall
  7. Making exit costly but efficient: the political economy of exit clauses and secession By Martijn Huysmans; Christophe Crombez
  8. The unstable foundations of political stability in Chad By Daniel Eizenga
  9. European political parties and European public space from the Maastricht Treaty to the Reg. No. 1141/2014 By Saitto, Francesco
  10. What Determined 2015 TPA Voting Pattern?: The Role of Trade Negotiating Objectives By Yoon, Yeo Joon; Lee, Woong

  1. By: Hegadekatti, Kartik
    Abstract: Currently, Democracy is realised through representatives elected by the people. These elections are periodic activities. They involve expenditure of big amounts of manpower, money, time and other resources. It is important to note that during an election, the administration and day-to-day lives of people are affected as election activities take centre stage. Present day elections are amenable to influence where Voters can possibly be intimidated to vote against their will. In many instances, the trustworthiness of the election process is itself uncertain. In such a situation, we need an election process that is fair, convenient transparent, and inexpensive. Blockchain technology provides a possibility to attain a highly dependable and certifiable election process. This process is also inexpensive at the same time. This paper deals with examining possibilities of conducting elections through the Blockchain. Blockchain technology is briefly introduced. The procedure that underlies voting through Blockchain is defined. The advantages of such a system are then deliberated. The various points vis-a-vis present day election processes are analysed. The paper concludes by analysing the possible impacts of voting through the Blockchain.
    Keywords: elections, blockchain, voting, democracy, blockchain use cases, republic, bitcoin
    JEL: D72 D74 D81 J18 O33
    Date: 2017–01–24
  2. By: Nemera Mamo (Department of Economics, University of Sussex; SOAS, University of London); Sambit Bhattacharyya (Department of Economics, University of Sussex)
    Abstract: We investigate the effect of resource discoveries on ethnicity level political patronage in Africa using a large geospatial dataset of 254 ethnic groups in 15 countries over the period 1960 to 2004. We find that the first (or single first) resource discovery in a virgin ethnic homeland increases the share of cabinet posts of that ethnicity. The effect is induced by both expectations and rent. Overall the effect is mainly driven by major mineral discoveries as opposed to oil and gas. The discovery shocks do not trigger monopoly or dominant access to power, autonomy, separatism, and exclusion. Our analysis reveals that point source resource (mineral) rents are far more important political currency than diffuse agricultural commodity rents. Furthermore, by ranking ministries into Top and Bottom levels we find some evidence of window dressing politics. Our results survive a battery of robustness tests and controls.
    Keywords: Resource discovery; Political Patronage; Africa
    JEL: D72 O11
    Date: 2018–01
  3. By: David Bartolini (OECD); Agnese Sacchi (Sapienza University of Rome (Italy); GEN (Spain)); Domenico Scalera (University of Sannio (Italy)); Alberto Zazzaro (University of Naples Federico II; CSEF & MoFiR (Italy))
    Abstract: Government accountability increases with voters' proximity to policy-makers. Decentralization reforms implemented in many countries in the last twenty years are based on this principle. We present a political agency model that challenges this view and shows that the effects of increasing proximity may depend on the institutional context. In particular, the presence of rent-seeking politicians and heterogeneity in voters' political awareness produce three distinct optimal levels of decentralization. Furthermore, optimal distance depends on the capacity of rent-seeking incumbents to blur information available to voters. When the incumbent reacts to increasing proximity with more blurring activity, the optimal distance increases. Accordingly, less decentralization is preferable.
    Keywords: government accountability, information, institutional distance, rent-seeking, political awareness
    JEL: D72 D82 D83 H40
    Date: 2018–01
  4. 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: 2018
  5. By: Xue, Melanie Meng; Koyama, Mark
    Abstract: This paper explores the impact of autocratic rule on social capital—defined as the beliefs, attitudes, norms and perceptions that support cooperation. Political repression is a distinguishing characteristic of autocratic regimes. Between 1660–1788, individuals in imperial China were persecuted if they were suspected of holding subversive attitudes towards the state. A difference-in-differences approach suggests that in an average prefecture, exposure to those literary inquisitions led to a decline of 38% in local charities—a key proxy of social capital. Consistent with the historical panel results, we find that in affected prefectures, individuals have lower levels of generalized trust in modern China. Taking advantage of institutional variation in 20th c. China, and two instrumental variables, we provide further evidence that political repression permanently reduced social capital. Furthermore, we find that individuals in prefectures with a legacy of literary inquisitions ar are more politically apathetic. These results indicate a potential vicious cycle in which autocratic rule becomes self-reinforcing through causing a permanent decline in social capital.
    Keywords: Social Capital, Institutions, Autocracy, China
    JEL: D71 D73 N45 Z1 Z10
    Date: 2018–01–25
  6. By: Andrea Guariso; Thorsten Rogall
    Abstract: Does higher resource inequality between ethnic groups lead to ethnic conflict? In this paper, we empirically investigate this question by constructing a new measure of inequality using rainfall on ethnic homelands during the plant-growing season. Our dataset covers the period 1982-2001 and includes 214 ethnicities, located across 42 African countries. The analysis at the country level shows that one standard-deviation increase in rainfall-based inequality between ethnic groups increases the risk of ethnic conflict by 16 percentage points (or 0.43 standard deviations). This relationship depends on the power relations between the ethnic groups. More specifically, the analysis at the ethnicity level shows that ethnic groups are more likely to engage in civil conflicts whenever they receive less rain than the leading group. This effect does not hold for ethnic groups that share some political power with the leading group and is strongest for groups that have recently lost power. Our findings are consistent with an increase in resource inequality leading to more ethnic conflicts by exacerbating grievances in groups with no political power.
    Keywords: Conflict, Ethnic Inequality, Rainfall, Africa, Ethnic Power Relations
    JEL: D63 D74 E01
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Martijn Huysmans; Christophe Crombez
    Abstract: This article presents a political economic analysis of exit from federations. Over time, members’ benefits from being in a federation can fluctuate because of changes in the state of the world. If a member stops benefitting, it may wish to secede i.e. exit the federation. Based on a real options model, we show that state-contingent exit penalties can induce socially efficient exit decisions. In addition to the substantive implications, this represents a methodological contribution to real options theory. Even if ex-ante specified exit penalties cannot be made state-contingent, they may still enhance social welfare by preventing secession wars. This finding runs counter to the dominant view in the literature that exit clauses should be avoided in federations. As a first test of the model, we derive five hypotheses and show that they hold for the breakup of Yugoslavia and all cases known to us of federations with an exit clause.
    Keywords: Exit Clauses, Secession, Federalism, Real Options
    Date: 2017
  8. By: Daniel Eizenga (Sahel Research Group, University of Florida)
    Abstract: Chad has emerged as an important counter-terrorism partner in the Lake Chad Basin and the broader Sahel-Sahara region due to its recent political stability and military contribution to security efforts in these troubled zones. However, a closer look at developments in domestic politics, notably the continued and increasingly severe repression of the political opposition and civil society, suggests that this stability may not be built on solid foundations. This paper considers the role Chad has played in the fight against Boko Haram and other forms of regional violent extremism in an effort to take stock of the current threats the Chadian government faces from external actors. It then investigates growing domestic grievances due to an ongoing fiscal crisis, attacks on civil liberties, and a disrupted electoral calendar which risk escalating and destabilising the current government. The paper argues that the mitigation of these diverse and multi-dimensional security threats, particularly at the domestic level, would benefit from an environment that is more supportive of democratic institutions and the rule of law, thus enhancing the country’s prospects for stability in the short- and long-term.
    Keywords: Boko Haram, Chad, political stability, Sahel, security
    JEL: D74 F5 H56 N47
    Date: 2018–02–07
  9. By: Saitto, Francesco
    Abstract: The article, using a historical perspective, analyses the role and the functions of European political parties. Focusing on the different nature of national political parties and European political parties, the article describes the attempts to regulate political parties at the European level as a tool to enhance European democracy and to shape a European public sphere. In this perspective, the emerging role of political parties at the European level is analysed from the first election of the European Parliament, through the Tsatsos's Report. Subsequently, the Treaty of Nice and Regulation 2004/2003 are considered. Furthermore, the article focuses on the new regulation concerning political parties at the European level by taking into consideration Regulation n. 1141/2014. Moreover, the new Authority for European political parties and European political foundations and its powers are examined. Some final remarks concern the "lead candidates" innovation and the European electoral law.
    Keywords: European political parties,representative democracy,Regulation n. 1141/2014,Authority for European political parties,European public sphere
    Date: 2017
  10. By: Yoon, Yeo Joon (Korea Institute for International Economic Policy); Lee, Woong (Korea Institute for International Economic Policy)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes 2015-TPA voting patterns in the Congress in the context of the trade negotiating objectives. By setting the trade negotiating objectives, the Congress lays out important trade agenda that the Administration is ex-pected to address when it is negotiating trade deals with foreign countries. Therefore setting the objectives is subject of heated debates in the Congress and an important part of TPA. LPM and probit models are used to evaluate the importance of each trade negotiating objectives in 2015-TPA voting deci-sions. It turns out that the objective on promoting U.S. agricultural exports by reducing unfair trade barriers positively affected the voting decision in favor of the TPA. The objective on enforcing strong labor standards on trade partners also had significant impacts. One other notable result is that how much each congressional region export to China was also an important de-terminant. This variable is meant to capture several negotiating objectives as well as growing worries of large trade deficits with China. This study docu-ments important issues that U.S. Congress is concerned about in making conducting and implementing trade policies. It may provide insights into the future course of U.S. trade policy and trade deals such as renegotiation of NAFTA and Korea-US FTA.
    Keywords: Trade Agreements; Trade Promotion Authority; Voting
    JEL: D72 F10
    Date: 2017–12–27

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