nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2019‒07‒29
thirteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Gordon Tullock on Majority Voting: the Making of a Conviction. By Julien Grandjean
  2. Technological change, campaign spending and polarization By Pau Balart; Agustin Casas; Orestis Troumpounis
  3. Democracy support and peaceful democratisation after civil war By Mross, Karina
  4. News We Like to Share: How News Sharing on Social Networks Influences Voting Outcomes By Pogorelskiy, Kirill; Shum, Matthew
  5. Poisson voting games: proportional rule By Francesco De Sinopoli; Claudia Meroni
  6. Cultural values, popular attitudes and democracy promotion: how values mediate the effectiveness of donor support for term limits and LGBT+ rights in Uganda By Hulse, Merran
  7. Friends for the benefits: The effects of political ties on sovereign borrowing conditions By Ambrocio, Gene; Hasan, Iftekhar
  8. Daunou’s Voting Method By Salvador Barberà; Walter Bossert; Kataro Suzumura
  9. Nuclear Power, Democracy, Development, and Nuclear Warheads: Determinants for Introducing Nuclear Power By Lars Sorge; Anne Neumann; Christian von Hirschhausen; Ben Wealer
  10. Populism: consequences for global sustainable development By Marschall, Paul; Klingebiel, Stephan
  11. Tying the Politicians’ Hands: The Optimal Limits to Representative Democracy By Didier Laussel; Ngo Van Long
  12. Voting Up? The Effects of Democracy and Franchise Extension on Human Stature By Alberto Batinti; Joan Costa-i-Font; Timothy J. Hatton
  13. Political Economy of Taxation, Debt Ceilings, and Growth By Uchida, Yuki; Ono, Tetsuo

  1. By: Julien Grandjean
    Abstract: This paper participates in the formation of the history of public choice theory. In particular, it will focus on the role of Gordon Tullock and the analysis of the simple majority decision-making process promoted in the famous Calculus of Consent, written along with James M. Buchanan. This paper shows that Tullock has already think about the issue of majority voting prior to the writing of his common book with Buchanan. Between 1959 and 1961 in particular, while Tullock was a postdoctoral fellow at the Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy and Social Philosophy at the University of Virginia and later Assistant Professor in the Department of International Studies at the University of South Carolina, he had an interesting interaction with Anthony Downs about majority decision-making process in a democracy. This interaction that consists in a correspondence between Tullock, Downs and their editors can be found for a part in the Gordon Tullock papers of the Hoover Institution Archives. It gave birth to some major articles by the two authors such as The Problem of Majority Voting by Tullock in 1959, Why the Government Budget is Too Small in a Democracy by Downs in 1960, Problems of Majority Voting: In Defense of Majority Voting by Downs and Problems of Majority Voting: Reply to a Traditionalist by Tullock in 1961. Our purpose is to highlight the interaction that forms the basis of these publications and shows the way Tullock matured his view about the majoritarian rule – one of the cornerstones of the public choice theory – at this time.
    Keywords: Gordon Tullock, Anthony Downs, public choice, majority voting, logrolling, unanimity.
    JEL: B21 B31 D72
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Pau Balart; Agustin Casas; Orestis Troumpounis
    Abstract: We focus on changes in technology and campaign management to study the documented simultaneous increase in campaign spending and polarization. In our model, some voters are ideological while others are impressionable. If the distribution of voters between types is endogenous and depends on parties' platform choices, our results show that a) an increase in the effectiveness of electoral advertising or a decrease in the electorate's political awareness, surely increases polarization and may also increase campaign spending, while b) a decrease in the cost of advertising does not affect neither polarization nor spending.
    Keywords: electoral competition, campaign spending, impressionable voters, semiorder lexicographic preferences
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Mross, Karina
    Abstract: Evidence exists that democracies are particularly stable, yet also that processes of democratisation are highly susceptible to conflict, especially if democratisation occurs in the aftermath of violent conflict. New research from the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) indicates that external democracy support can help mitigate the destabilising effects of post-conflict demo¬cratisation. Since the 1990s, democracy support has been integral to most peacebuilding efforts. Supporting free and fair elections or a vibrant media seems well-suited for fostering peace: Democratic institutions can actively deal with societal conflicts, in sharp contrast to authoritarian regimes, which often rely on repression. However, altering power relations through more political competition can also trigger power struggles, which newly emerging democratic institutions may have difficulty containing. Therefore, questions arise regarding countries that have embarked on a process of democratisation after civil war: Can democracy support help to mitigate destabilising effects, or does it reinforce them? If it can foster peace, how should it be designed in order to avoid renewed violence? The wisdom or folly of supporting democracy to build peace after civil war has caused controversy, yet has rarely been tested empirically. This briefing paper summarises findings from DIE research that addresses this gap. The results demonstrate that: External democracy support that accompanies post-conflict democratisation can help to foster peace after civil war. Importantly, it does not trigger renewed violence. Analysing the effects of two donor strategies to deal with trade-offs between stability (preventing renewed violence) and democracy shows that prioritising stability over democracy does not contain fewer risks than gradualist support, in contrast to widespread assumptions. In fact, the prioritising strategy can also fail, and even be counterproductive. The competitive elements of a democratic system explain both why it can help to avoid, or provoke, renewed violence. Democracy support facilitating “controlled competition” can mitigate the destabilizing effects: Support for political competition strengthens the peace-enhancing effects by promoting meaningful choice and enabling the peaceful allocation and withdrawal of political power. Fostering institutional constraints limits the discretionary power of the executive and enforces a commitment to democratic rules. These results can provide guidance to policy-makers when engaging in post-conflict situations: Donors should actively accompany post-conflict democratisation processes with substantial democracy support. They should not refrain from offering such support until stability has already proven to be sustain¬able, since it can make an important contribution towards strengthening peace and help in avoiding destabilising effects. When facing trade-offs between stability and democracy in post-conflict situations, donors should bear in mind that prioritising stability is not less risk-prone than a gradualist approach, which promotes both stability and democracy in an iterative way. Thus, prioritising stability should not be the obvious choice in post-conflict situations. Instead, donors should carefully scrutinise the political dynamics before applying either strategy and recall that a gradualist approach offers considerable potential for strengthening peace sustainably. Engaging in a context of post-conflict democratisation, donors should provide substantial support both for political competition and for institutional constraints.
    Keywords: Governance,Sicherheit, Frieden und fragile Staaten
    Date: 2019
  4. By: Pogorelskiy, Kirill (University of Warwick); Shum, Matthew (Caltech)
    Abstract: More voters than ever get political news from their friends on social media platforms. Is this bad for democracy? Using context-neutral laboratory experiments, we find that biased (mis)information shared on social networks affects the quality of collective decisions relatively more than does segregation by political preferences on social media. Two features of subject behavior underlie this finding: 1) they share news signals selectively, revealing signals favorable to their candidates more often than unfavorable signals; 2) they na¨ively take signals at face value and account for neither the selection in the selection in the shared signals nor the differential informativeness of news signals across different sources.
    Keywords: news sharing, social networks, voting, media bias, fake news, polarization, filter bubble, lab experiments JEL Classification: C72, C91, C92, D72, D83, D85
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Francesco De Sinopoli (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Claudia Meroni (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: We analyze strategic voting under pure proportional rule and two candidates, embedding the basic spatial model into the Poisson framework of population uncertainty. We prove that the Nash equilibrium exists and is unique. We show that it is characterized by a cutpoint in the policy space that is always located between the mean of the two candidates’ positions and the median of the distribution of voters’ types. We also show that, as the expected number of voters goes to infinity, the equilibrium converges to that of the complete information case.
    Keywords: Poisson games, strategic voting, proportional rule
    JEL: C72 D72
    Date: 2019–07
  6. By: Hulse, Merran
    Abstract: Democracy is frequently thought of as a “universal value”. Donors for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) accept this assumption and take measures in recipient countries that aim to promote or uphold values they consider central to democracy, including political competition and individual equality, among others. However, some scholars have questioned whether such values are actually universally applicable, and whether donors need to disavow themselves of the notion that “one size fits all” when it comes to promoting democracy in developing countries. Nevertheless, the role of cultural values in mediating the effectiveness of democracy promotion is relatively under-theorised in existing research. This discussion paper is part of the larger research project “What is democracy’s value?”, which aims at understanding how societal values and attitudes influence the effectiveness of international democracy promotion in African countries. The project looks at how social values and political attitudes mediate democracy promotion in two specific realms: attempts by heads of state to circumvent presidential term limits, and reforms to legislation in the realm of family law and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual (LGBT+) rights. This discussion paper focusses on two cases that took place in Uganda: Yoweri Museveni’s successful 2005 campaign to remove presidential term limits from the Constitution, and the attempt to pass legislation outlawing homosexuality in 2014. In both cases, OECD donors intervened, to varying degrees, in an effort to uphold basic principles of democracy. Despite popular support for maintaining term limits, donor interventions were unsuccessful in the first case. They were, however, successful in thwarting the Anti-Homosexuality Act, even though it had a high level of popular support. The findings of the Ugandan case studies problematise the assumed link between cultural value dimensions – popularised by cross-cultural researchers such as Hofstede, Schwartz, and Inglehart and Welzel – and popular political attitudes. A tendency towards particular value dimensions does not necessarily seem to predispose Ugandans towards particular attitudes, nor does a match or mismatch between the value dimensions of donors and Ugandans result in a corresponding match or mismatch of political attitudes. Likewise, a widespread political attitude does not dictate the outcomes of reform processes, at least in the authoritarian context in which Ugandan politics takes place. More important is the magnitude of material incentives and/or sanctions offered by donors, and the transnational alliances between international and domestic actors. This is not to say that values do not matter. Cultural values are an integral part of the social and political contexts in which democracy promotion takes place and are an important factor in informing the behaviour of executive decision-makers. A greater understanding of cultural values, beliefs and attitudes is integral for both the study of democracy promotion and designing context-sensitive and effective interventions to support democracy in recipient countries.
    Keywords: Demokratie und Autokratie,Einstellungen, Werte und Normen
    Date: 2018
  7. By: Ambrocio, Gene; Hasan, Iftekhar
    Abstract: Do closer political ties with a global superpower improve sovereign borrowing conditions? We use data on voting at the United Nations General Assembly along with foreign aid flows to construct an index of political ties and find evidence that suggests closer political ties leads to both better sovereign credit ratings and lower yields on sovereign bonds. We use heads-of-state official visits and coalition forces troop contributions as exogenous instruments to further strengthen the findings.
    JEL: F50 F35 H63 G24
    Date: 2019–07–22
  8. By: Salvador Barberà; Walter Bossert; Kataro Suzumura
    Abstract: Pierre Daunou, a contemporary of Borda and Condorcet during the era of the French Revolution and active debates on alternative voting rules, proposed a method that chooses the strong Condorcet winner if there is one, otherwise eliminates Condorcet losers and uses plurality voting on the remaining alternatives. We axiomatically characterize his method which combines potentially conflicting criteria of majoritarianism by ordering them lexicographically. This contribution serves not just to remind ourselves that a 19th-century vintage may still retain excellent aroma and taste, but also to open up a novel way of applying potentially conflicting desiderata by accommodating them lexicographically.
    Keywords: voting rules, Daunou's method, Condorcet criterion
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2019–07
  9. By: Lars Sorge; Anne Neumann; Christian von Hirschhausen; Ben Wealer
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the nature of democratic development in a nation on the process of introducing nuclear power over the period 1960 - 2017 for an unbalanced panel of 171 countries. Given the involved political process of introducing nuclear power and its political importance, as well as the current tendency of about 30 countries to “go nuclear”, this question is both of historic and current interest. We apply a multinomial logistic regression approach that relates the likelihood of a country to introduce nuclear power to its level of democratic quality and nuclear warhead possession. The model results suggest that countries with lower levels of democratic development are more likely to introduce nuclear power. Our results moreover indicate that countries which possess at least one nuclear warhead are more likely to continue to use nuclear power instead of not using nuclear power at all. We discuss these results in the context of the public policy debate on nuclear power, yet beyond energy and environmental issues addressing international relations, conflict, and security issues connected to nuclear energy.
    Keywords: Nuclear power, nuclear warhead, democracy, multinomial logit, panel data
    JEL: P48 Q34 Q01 C35
    Date: 2019
  10. By: Marschall, Paul; Klingebiel, Stephan
    Abstract: Populism is a style of politics that attacks the existing normative consensus within society, making systematic use of marginalisation and bogeyman tactics. Typical marginalisation strategies target minorities within the population and adopt an anti-scientific world view. Restrictions on civil society are one of the consequences of government action dominated by populism. When it comes to mobilising voters, populists draw upon selected topics which differ according to political camp (left-wing versus right-wing populism) and national context. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify certain patterns of populist expression, such as the practice of contrasting the “people” and their supposed will with an allegedly out-of-touch political “elite”. The values of the population are largely set within the national context, while representatives of the elite are often portrayed as primarily interested in interactions outside of the nation state and thus perceived and characterised as proponents of globalisation. Populist trends can be seen in Western nations, former Eastern Bloc states and countries in the global South. Populist movements pose considerable threats to multilateral efforts aimed at tackling transnational political challenges. These patterns include: Abandonment of efforts to promote integration. Accordingly, the European Union (EU) is considered an “elite project” and emblematic of many of the negative aspects of globalisation. Abandonment of multilateral institutions and inter¬na¬tional trade agreements. This includes withdrawal from international accords (Paris climate agreement, etc.) and international organisations. Reinterpretation/rejection of development policy. Development policy is not understood as an original instrment for promoting global sustainable development, but rather reinterpreted as a vehicle for achieving narrow national goals. The partially transnational nature of populism could present an additional challenge for global sustainable development in future. Efforts by populist streams to cooperate at cross-border level and thus create a form of “meta-populism” have barely succeeded to date, but this could change after the European elections in May 2019. The current and the expected future significance of populist actors varies from country to country. Even in nations in which populists are not currently in government, the state could introduce budget cuts or reallocate funding to specific development policy topics in an effort to minimise the electoral gains of the populists. This runs the threat of populist approaches becoming effective even in countries where populist parties are not in government.
    Keywords: Demokratie und Autokratie,Deutsche + Europäische + multilaterale Entwicklungspolitik
    Date: 2019
  11. By: Didier Laussel; Ngo Van Long
    Abstract: The citizen-candidate models of democracy assume that politicians have their own preferences that are not fully revealed at the time of elections. We study the optimal delegation problem which arises between the median voter (the writer of the constitution) and the (future) incumbent politician under the assumption that not only the state of the world and but also the politician's type (preferred policy) are the policy-maker's private information. We show that it is optimal to tie the hands of the politician by imposing both a policy floor and a policy cap and delegating him/her the policy choice only in between the cap and the floor. We establish two uncertainty principles: (a) the state-uncertainty principle, which states that the greater is the uncertainty about the state of the world, the wider is the delegation interval, and (b) the bias-uncertainty principle, which states that the greater is the uncertainty about political bias, the smaller is the delegation interval. Les récents modèles de la démocratie supposent que les hommes politiques ont leurs propres préférences qui ne sont pas pleinement révélées au moment des élections. Nous étudions le problème de délégation optimale qui se pose entre le votant médian (l'auteur de la constitution) et le (futur) politicien sous l’hypothèse que non seulement l'état du monde mais aussi le type de politicien sont des informations privées. Nous montrons qu'il est optimal de lier les mains du politicien en lui imposant à la fois un plancher et un plafond, et en lui déléguant le choix politique seulement entre le plafond et le plancher. Nous établissons deux principes d’incertitude : (a) le principe d’incertitude des états, selon lequel plus l’incertitude sur l’état du monde est grande, plus l’intervalle de délégation est large, et (b) le principe d’incertitude sur les biais, qui exige que l'intervalle de délégation soit une fonction décroissante de l’incertitude sur le type du politicien.
    Keywords: Representative Democracy,Optimal Delegation,Political Uncertainty,Policy Caps,Policy Floors,Citizen Candidates, Démocratie représentative,Délégation optimale,Incertitude politique,Plafonds de politique,Planchers de politique,Candidats citoyens
    JEL: D82 H10
    Date: 2019–07–19
  12. By: Alberto Batinti; Joan Costa-i-Font; Timothy J. Hatton
    Abstract: We study the health effects of the spread of democratic institutions and the extension of voting rights in 15 European countries since the middle of the nineteenth century. We employ both cross country and cohort variation in heights and employ a new instrument for democracy and the extension of the franchise, the effect of decolonisation on democracy in the colonising country’s democratisation to identify the causal effect of democracy on heights. We find robust evidence of a link between democratic quality and human stature. The results indicate that the transition to democracy increased average male heights by 0.7 to 1 cm, equivalent to a one-decade average increase in stature across cohorts. Including the extension of the franchise to women increases the effect on average stature to about 1.7cm. The effect is driven by both to political participation and contestation in reducing inequality and expanding health insurance coverage.
    Keywords: height, democracy, transition, voting rights expansions, franchise
    JEL: H10 I10 J10
    Date: 2019
  13. By: Uchida, Yuki; Ono, Tetsuo
    Abstract: This study presents voting on policies including public education, taxes, and public debt in an overlapping-generations model with physical and human capital accumulation and analyzes the effects of a debt ceiling on the government's policy formation and its impact on growth and welfare. The debt ceiling induces the government to shift the tax burdens from the older to younger generations and increase public education spending, resulting in a higher growth rate. However, it creates a trade-off between generations in terms of welfare. Alternatively, the debt ceiling is measured from the viewpoint of a benevolent planner; lowering the debt ceiling makes it possible for the government to approach the planner's allocation in an aging society.
    Keywords: Debt ceiling; Probabilistic voting, Public debt, Economic growth, Overlapping generations
    JEL: D70 E24 H63
    Date: 2019–07–15

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