nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2022‒02‒21
fourteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Analysis of the 2021 Bundestag elections. 4/4. The third vote application By Tanguiane, Andranick S.
  2. Democratizing from Within: British Elites and the Expansion of the Franchise By Chitralekha Basu; Carles Boix; Sonia Giurumescu; Paulo Serôdio
  3. Analysis of the 2021 Bundestag elections. 2/4. Political spectrum By Tanguiane, Andranick S.
  4. Concurrent elections and voting behaviour: evidence from an Italian referendum By Francesco Armillei; Enrico Cavallotti
  5. Political Competition and Public Healthcare : Evidence from India By Kailthya, Subham; Kambhampati, Uma
  6. Viewed from different Engels? Differences in reactions to “socialism” as a policy label By Ozer, Adam; Sullivan, Brian; Van, Douglas
  7. Voice and Political Engagement: Evidence From a Natural Field Experiment By Anselm Hager; Lukas Hensel; Christopher Roth; Andreas Stegmann
  8. Elections hinder firms’ access to credit By Léon, Florian; Weill, Laurent
  9. Local labour market competition and radical right voting: evidence from France By Bolet, Diane
  10. Analysis of the 2021 Bundestag elections. 1/4. Representativeness of the parties and the Bundestag By Tanguiane, Andranick S.
  11. Colombia: Democratic but violent? By Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan Fernando Vargas
  12. Social media, polarization and democracy: A multi-methods analysis of polarized users' interactions on Reddit's r/WallStreetBets By Massoc, Elsa Clara; Lubda, Maximilian
  13. Analysis of the 2021 Bundestag elections. 3/4. Tackling the Bundestag growth By Tanguiane, Andranick S.
  14. The Politicized Pandemic: Ideological Polarization and the Behavioral Response to COVID-19 By Gianluca Grimalda; Fabrice Murtin; David Pipke; Louis Putterman; Matthias Sutter

  1. By: Tanguiane, Andranick S.
    Abstract: This is the last of four papers devoted to the 2021 German federal elections continuing our analysis of the 2009, 2013 and 2017 Bundestag elections. It is shown that the policy representation by the Bundestag could be improved using the alternative Third Vote election method. Under the Third Vote, electors cast no votes for parties by name. The electoral ballot consists of questions on topical policy issues ('General speed limit on motorways?'-Yes/No, 'Germany should increase its defense spending?'-Yes/No, etc.), and the parties answer to these questions before the elections - as required by the Wahl-O-Mat, the German voting advice applications. However, the Third Vote is not concerned with individual advices or individual voting intermediation. The electoral ballots are processed to construct the electorate's policy profile with balances of public opinion on all the issues. Then the matching of the parties' profiles with the electorate's profile is measured using the parties' indices of popularity (average percentage of electors represented on all the issues) and universality (percentage of questions when a majority is represented). These indices of representativeness are used instead of the conventional index 'number of votes received' to define the party quotas in the Bundestag. This method is hypothetically applied to reallocate the Bundestag seats to the eligible parties, resulting in a considerable gain in the Bundestag's representativeness. Finally, we discuss mixed election procedures combining the Third Vote with the conventional voting by party name and analyze possible implications.
    Keywords: Representative democracy,elections,theory of voting,proportional representation
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Chitralekha Basu (University of Cologne); Carles Boix (Princeton University, IPErG (Universitat de Barcelona)); Sonia Giurumescu (Stockholm University); Paulo Serôdio (Universitat de Barcelona)
    Abstract: We develop a theory of democratization that integrates both electoral calculations and economic incentives to explain the institutional choices of political actors. Left-leaning (liberal) politicians, who, given their location in the policy space, are more likely to receive the support of newly enfranchised voters, favor a broader franchise than conservative ones. Their preferences are conditional on the distributional effects of the franchise: when inequality is higher, policymakers are more reluctant to expand it because it is harder to reconcile the policy demands of existing and new voters. We evaluate this theory by estimating the franchise preferences of British MPs based on their votes on franchise-related parliamentary divisions between 1830 and 1918, and linking these preferences to their personal and constituency characteristics. Our results, which are consistent with our theory, show that declining inequality and the First World War were crucial factors in the democratization of Britain in this period.
    Keywords: Democratization; Franchise extension; British political development; Electoral competition
    JEL: D72 N43
    Date: 2022–01
  3. By: Tanguiane, Andranick S.
    Abstract: This is the second out of four papers devoted to the 2021 German federal elections continuing our analysis of the 2009, 2013 and 2017 Bundestag elections. This paper arranges the contesting parties into a 'spectrum' that reflects the spatial proximity of their policy profiles. The latter are 38-dimensional vectors of the parties' answers to 38 policy questions from the 2021 Wahl-O-Mat, the German voting advice application (VAA). Applying Principal component analysis (PCA), we construct a contiguous party ordering where the neighboring parties have close policy profiles. The ordering fits to the left-right ideological axis rolled up in a circumference, which can be unfolded by splitting it at one of its largest gaps. Rigorously speaking, we obtain a horseshoe-shaped left-right axis with the far-left and far-right ends approaching each other. For comparisons, alternative party orderings are constructed using four other models. Finally, the 2013, 2017 and 2021 German political spectra are compared.
    Keywords: Policy representation,representative democracy,political spectrum,left-right ideological axis
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Francesco Armillei; Enrico Cavallotti
    Abstract: In September 2020 Italy held a constitutional referendum. On the same election days, many municipalities and some regions held municipal and regional elections. We exploit this unique occasion, caused by the unexpected Covid-19 crisis, to obtain a causal estimate of the effects of the overlap of concurrent elections on the referendum results. When the referendum overlaps with either municipal or regional elections, we find a positive effect on turnout and on the proportion of blank and null votes. We also find a quantitatively small but statistically significant effect on the referendum preferences. We interpret the results through the use of the calculus of voting model, exploiting a slightly modified version of the most widespread one in the literature. Our findings are relevant from a policy-making standpoint, with respect to both fostering turnout and reducing election organizational costs.
    Keywords: Concurrent elections, Voting behaviour, Referendum, Calculus of voting
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Kailthya, Subham (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Kambhampati, Uma (Department of Economics, University of Reading)
    Abstract: In this paper, we examine the causal effect of political competition on public provision of healthcare. Specifically, we investigate whether the effect of political competition on more visible public goods (e.g. health centre access) differs from its impact on less visible public goods (e.g. health centre capacity such as doctors, medical supplies, etc.). Using granular data from three recent waves of the Indian District Level Household Survey (DLHS) during 2002-2013 and an instrumental variable approach, we find that incumbents respond to electoral competition, measured as the effective number of parties (ENP), by trading-off less visible health centre capacity for more visible access to health centres. We provide suggestive evidence that focusing on more visible health centres boosts the incumbent party’s re-election prospects providing a clear motive for incumbent’s action. In addition, we examine the effect of election-year cycles and the role of political alignment in healthcare provision and find compelling evidence of a political economic mechanism at work. By contrast, political competition has no measurable impact on key health outcomes. We conduct several robustness checks to ensure that our estimates are reliable. Thus, our results suggest that electoral competition must be accompanied by strong checks on accountability to improve health outcomes.
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Ozer, Adam; Sullivan, Brian; Van, Douglas
    Abstract: The supposed popularity of socialism among young Americans has been a trending topic in American political media and campaigns. While evidence from public opinion polls disagrees as to whether socialism is truly gaining in popularity, the use of the term “socialism” has had a profound impact on policy discussions in the media and has featured as a prominent Republican Party strategy in the 2020 election cycle. This gives rise to important questions: How do individuals react to the socialist label? Does the socialist label serve as an ideological or affective signal? Are attacks that frame policies as socialist effective in decreasing policy support? Using original observational and experimental survey data, we find that individuals have strong polarized affective reactions to the socialist label. However, framing popular social welfare policies as socialist is ineffective in undermining popular support. Implications suggest that while framing political policies as socialist may trigger affective polarization, it is likely an ineffective means of political persuasion. As a result, oversaturation of the term in the media may lead to misleading conclusions about both political ideology and individual political behavior.
    Keywords: affective polarization; socialism; policy support; framing; survey experiment; Sage deal
    JEL: B14 B24 P2 P3
    Date: 2022–01–24
  7. By: Anselm Hager (Humboldt University); Lukas Hensel (Peking University); Christopher Roth (University of Cologne); Andreas Stegmann (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We conduct a natural field experiment with a major European party to test whether giving party supporters the opportunity to voice their opinions increases their engagement in the party’s electoral campaign. In our experiment, the party asked a random subset of supporters for their opinions on the importance of different topics. Giving supporters more opportunities to voice their opinions increases their engagement in the campaign as measured using behavioral data from the party’s smartphone application. Survey data reveals that our voice treatments also increase other margins of campaign effort as well as perceived voice. Our evidence highlights that parties can increase their supporters’ investment in the democratic process by implementing policies that increase their voice.
    Keywords: Political engagement, Inclusion, Voice, Agency, Natural Field Experiment,Canvassing JEL Classification:D8, P16
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Léon, Florian; Weill, Laurent
    Abstract: To analyze whether the occurrence of elections affects access to credit for firms, we perform an investigation using firm-level data covering 44 developed and developing countries. The results show that elections impair access to credit. Specifically, firms are more credit-constrained in election years and pre-election years as elections exacerbate political uncertainty. While lower credit demand is a tangible negative effect of elections, their occurrece per se does not seem to affect credit supply. We further establish that the design of political and financial systems affects how elections influence access to credit.
    JEL: G21 D72 O16
    Date: 2022–02–09
  9. By: Bolet, Diane
    Abstract: How do the economic effects of immigration affect radical right support? The evidence in support of the labour market competition theory—which posits that the economic threat posed by immigration to jobs and wages leads to radical right voting—has been mixed. On the one hand, individual‐level surveys underreport economic drivers because of social desirability bias. On the other hand, contextual studies show contradictory findings due to an over‐reliance on units of analysis that are too aggregated to meaningfully capture the competitive threat posed by immigrants. This paper identifies the influence of labour market competition on radical right voting at a local level in contexts where native workers are directly affected by the arrival of immigrants who have similar or higher skillsets. Using an original longitudinal dataset of fine‐grained municipal electoral, demographic and economic data from France over the 2002–2017 period, the paper provides empirical evidence of local contextual influences of economic competition between natives and immigrants of any skillset. Under local conditions of material deprivation, measured by the local unemployment rate, the effect of labour market competition on municipalities’ radical right vote share is amplified. Moreover, higher radical right support is observed in municipalities with a higher share of any one of the following groups: low‐skilled natives; medium‐skilled immigrants; or high‐skilled immigrants. This supports the hypothesis that immigrants with higher qualifications are compelled to accept lower‐skilled jobs, and are thus perceived as a competitive threat to low‐skilled natives. By reconciling radical right contextual studies and research on the political economy of immigration policies, this paper highlights the importance of a local analysis in detecting the effect of labour market competition on radical right support. This paper also explains why some local areas are more prone to radical right support than others over time.
    Keywords: radical right parties; labour market competition; local context; European politics; political behaviour; Doctoral training grant; UKRI block grant
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2020–11–01
  10. By: Tanguiane, Andranick S.
    Abstract: This is the first out of four papers devoted to the 2021 German federal elections continuing our analysis of the 2009, 2013 and 2017 Bundestag elections by the methods of the mathematical theory of democracy. This one estimates the policy representation ability of the 39 parties that participated in the 2021 elections and the Bundestag. For this purpose, the positions of the parties on 38 topical issues are compared with the results of recent public opinion polls. Then the parties' indices of popularity (the average percentage of the population represented) and universality (frequency in representing a majority) are constructed. Assuming that the Bundestag's position on the 38 issues is determined by the Bundestag majority, the Bundestag's indices of popularity and universality are estimated as well. The main conclusion is that the representativeness of the Bundestag parties and the Bundestag (before coalition-formation) has significantly increased since 2017. In particular, the election winner, the SPD, is now ranked 4 instead of 22 in 2017, having the mean index (popularity + universality) / 2 = 65% instead of 52 % in 2017. The Bundestag's mean index is now equal to 61% instead of former 40%. As for the ruling 'Traffic light coalition', SPD+GRUNE+FDP, its compatibility is as low as 45% and the representativeness is not the best either.
    Keywords: Policy representation,representative democracy,direct democracy,elections,coalitions
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2022
  11. By: Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan Fernando Vargas
    Abstract: Colombia is a Latin American outlier in that it has traditionally been a very violent country, yet at the same time remarkably democratic. This chapter explores Colombia's puzzle from a political economy perspective, shedding light on the broader relationship between democracy and violence. The chapter studies some of the most important democratization reforms since Colombia's independence 200 years ago. It argues that the reforms often failed to curb violence and sometimes even actively, though perhaps unintendedly, exacerbated violent political strife. Democratic reforms were unable to set the ground for genuine power-sharing. They were often implemented amidst a weak institutional environment that allowed powerful elites, the reforms' ex-ante political losers, to capture the State and offset the benefits of the reforms for the broader society. We conclude by highlighting the implications of the argument for other countries facing democratic reforms, as well as for Colombia's current peace-building efforts.
    Keywords: Colombia, democracy, democratization, conflict, violence, power-sharing, political institutions
    JEL: D72 D74 P48
    Date: 2022–01–13
  12. By: Massoc, Elsa Clara; Lubda, Maximilian
    Abstract: In times of increased political polarization, the continuing existence of a deliberative arena where people with antagonistic views may engage with each other in non-violent ways is critical for democracy to live on. Social media are usually not conceived as such arenas. On the contrary, there has been widespread worry about their role in increasing polarization and political violence. This paper suggests a more positive impact of social media on democracy. Our analysis focuses on the subreddit "r/WallStreetBets" (r/WSB) - a finance-related forum that came under the spotlight when its users coordinated a financial attack on hedge funds during the Gamestop saga in early 2021. Based on an original method attributing partisanship scores to users, we present a network analysis of interactions between users at the opposite sides of the political spectrum on r/WSB. We then develop a content analysis of politically relevant threads in which polarized users participate. Our analyses show that r/WSB provides a rare space where users with antagonistic political leanings engage with each other, debate, and even cooperate.
    Keywords: democracy,investment forum,polarization,social media
    Date: 2022
  13. By: Tanguiane, Andranick S.
    Abstract: This is the third of four papers devoted to the 2021 German federal elections continuing our analysis of the 2009, 2013 and 2017 Bundestag elections. Currently, only China has a parliament larger than the German Bundestag, which still grows due to the increasing number of overhang mandates. The unfettered growth of the Bundestag - caused by allotting too many direct mandates to parties that received too few second votes - can be prevented by relaxing the principle of 'one man-one vote' and introducing adjustable vote weights of Bundestag members. Such a practice could make numerous adjustment (leveling) seats unnecessary and the basic 598 Bundestag seats sufficient under most circumstances. For this purpose, the members of the overrepresented parties (because they receive too many direct mandates) should have vote power = 1 and the members of other parties should have adjustment vote weights > 1. We explain the adjustment vote weights using the example of the 2021 Bundestag. The second point discussed is the incomplete compliance of the Sainte-Lague/Schepers method, which dates back to 1832 and is used to apportion the Bundestag, with the mathematical standards of the 21st century. This method results in apportionments that are often not the best ones found by discrete optimization.
    Keywords: Representative democracy,elections,theory of voting,proportional representation
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2022
  14. By: Gianluca Grimalda (Kiel Institute for the World Economy); Fabrice Murtin (OECD Statistics and Data Directorate); David Pipke (Kiel Institute for the World Economy); Louis Putterman (Brown University); Matthias Sutter (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, University of Cologne, University of Innsbruck, and IZA)
    Abstract: We investigate the relationship between political attitudes and prosociality in a survey of a representative sample of the U.S. population during the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that an experimental measure of prosociality correlates positively with adherence to protective behaviors. Liberal political ideology predicts higher levels of protective behavior than conservative ideology, independently of the differences in prosociality across the two groups. Differences between liberals and conservatives are up to 4.4 times smaller in their behavior than in judging the government’s crisis management. This result suggests that U.S. Americans are more polarized on ideological than behavioral grounds.
    Keywords: Polarization, Ideology, Trust in politicians, COVID-19, Prosociality, Health behavior, Worries
    JEL: D01 D72 D91 I12 I18 H11 H12
    Date: 2022–01

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