nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2022‒04‒04
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Does it Pay Off to Demonstrate Against the Far Right ? By Nicolas Lagios; Pierre-Guillaume Méon; Ilan Tojerow
  2. Electoral systems and female representation in politics: Evidence from a regression discontinuity By Köppl-Turyna, Monika; Kantorowicz, Jarosław
  3. Measuring the Impact of Campaign Finance on Congressional Voting: A Machine Learning Approach By Matthias Lalisse
  4. Dynamic Electoral Competition with Voter Loss-Aversion and Imperfect Recall By Lockwood, Ben; Le, Minh; Rockey, James
  5. Gerrymandering and the Limits of Representative Democracy By Kai Hao Yang; Alexander K. Zentefis
  6. How Likely A Coalition of Voters Can Influence A Large Election? By Lirong Xia
  7. Participation in voting over budget allocations: A field experiment By Puppe, Clemens; Rollmann, Jana
  8. Closing the Gender Gap in Secondary School Enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa: Does women’s political empowerment matter? By Issa Dianda; Idrissa Ouedraogo; Jean de Dieu Goumbri

  1. By: Nicolas Lagios; Pierre-Guillaume Méon; Ilan Tojerow
    Abstract: We study how demonstrating against a far-right candidate changes the behavior of voters and ultimately impacts election results. To do so, we focus on the 2002 French runoff presidential elections which pitted far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen against the incumbent, Jacques Chirac. Between the two rounds of the election, demonstrators protested Le Pen’s quest for power at roughly 300 demonstrations. Using rainfall as an exogenous source of variation in demonstration attendance across municipalities, we find that larger protests reduced the number of votes for Le Pen and the number of abstentions and blank or invalid ballots, and increased the number of votes for Chirac. We show that this positive effect on voting for Chirac results from left-wing voters who did not cast a blank or invalid ballot and right-wing voters who switched from Le Pen to Chirac. Next, we focus on the mechanisms behind these results to find that the 2002 demonstrations both reduced support for the policies advocated by Le Pen and signaled that voting for him was socially undesirable. Finally, we provide evidence that demonstrations affected voting mainly through local media coverage and spread out beyond the municipalities that hosted the demonstrations.
    Keywords: Demonstration; Election; Protest; Far-right; Populism
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2022–03–29
  2. By: Köppl-Turyna, Monika; Kantorowicz, Jarosław
    Abstract: This work looks at the impact of electoral rules on female participation in local legislative bodies using a natural experiment involving a series of changes to electoral law in Poland. Using an exogenous population threshold dividing municipalities into ones with proportional and ones with majoritarian elections, we estimate the effect of each electoral system on female representation. Contrary to the literature on the national elections, we ftnd that more females are elected to local councils under a majoritarian system. We link this observation to countering party bias in list placements and lower costs of electoral participation in the majoritarian system.
    Keywords: electoral rules,forms of government,female representation,regression discontinuity
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Matthias Lalisse (Johns Hopkins University)
    Abstract: How much does money drive legislative outcomes in the United States? In this article, we use aggregated campaign finance data as well as a Transformer based text embedding model to predict roll call votes for legislation in the US Congress with more than 90% accuracy. In a series of model comparisons in which the input feature sets are varied, we investigate the extent to which campaign finance is predictive of voting behavior in comparison with variables like partisan affiliation. We find that the financial interests backing a legislator's campaigns are independently predictive in both chambers of Congress, but also uncover a sizable asymmetry between the Senate and the House of Representatives. These findings are cross-referenced with a Representational Similarity Analysis (RSA) linking legislators' financial and voting records, in which we show that "legislators who vote together get paid together", again discovering an asymmetry between the House and the Senate in the additional predictive power of campaign finance once party is accounted for. We suggest an explanation of these facts in terms of Thomas Ferguson's Investment Theory of Party Competition: due to a number of structural differences between the House and Senate, but chiefly the lower amortized cost of obtaining individuated influence with Senators, political investors prefer operating on the House using the party as a proxy.
    Keywords: campaign finance, congressional voting, investment theory of party competition, machine learning, Representational Similarity Analysis, political money
    JEL: H10 D72 P16 C45
    Date: 2022–02–22
  4. By: Lockwood, Ben (University of Warwick); Le, Minh (University of Warwick); Rockey, James (University of Birmingham)
    Abstract: This paper explores the implications of voter loss-aversion and imperfect recall for the dynamics of electoral competition in a simple Downsian model of repeated elections. We first establish a benchmark result: when the voters’ reference point is forward-looking, there are a continuum of rational expectations equilibria (REE). When voters are backward-looking i.e. the reference point is last period’s recalled policy, interesting dynamics only emerge when voters have imperfect recall about that policy. Then, the interplay between the median voter’s reference point and political parties’ choice of platforms generates a dynamic process of polarization (or de-polarization). Under the assumption that parties are risk-neutral, platforms monotonically converge over time to a long-run equilibrium, which is always a REE. When parties are risk-averse, dynamic incentives also come into play, and generally lead to more policy moderation, resulting in equilibria that are more moderate than the most moderate REE JEL Classification: D72 ; D81
    Keywords: electoral competition ; repeated elections ; loss-aversion ; imperfect recall ; advantage
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Kai Hao Yang (Cowles Foundation and School of Management, Yale University); Alexander K. Zentefis (Yale School of Management)
    Abstract: We assess the capacity of gerrymandering to undermine the will of the people in a representative democracy. Citizens have political positions represented on a spectrum, and electoral maps separate people into districts. We show that unrestrained gerrymandering can severely distort the composition of a legislature, potentially leading half the population to lose all representation of their views. This means that, under majority rule in the congress, gerrymandering enables politicians to enact any legislation of their choice as long as it falls within the interquartile range of the political spectrum. Just as worrisome, gerrymandering can rig any legislation to pass instead of the median policy, which would otherwise prevail in a referendum against any other choice.
    Keywords: Gerrymandering, representatives, legislature, Bayesian persuasion
    JEL: D72 D78 D82 K16
    Date: 2022–03
  6. By: Lirong Xia
    Abstract: For centuries, it has been widely believed that the influence of a small coalition of voters is negligible in a large election. Consequently, there is a large body of literature on characterizing the asymptotic likelihood for an election to be influence, especially by the manipulation of a single voter, establishing an $O(\frac{1}{\sqrt n})$ upper bound and an $\Omega(\frac{1}{n^{67}})$ lower bound for many commonly studied voting rules under the i.i.d.~uniform distribution, known as Impartial Culture (IC) in social choice, where $n$ is the number is voters. In this paper, we extend previous studies in three aspects: (1) we consider a more general and realistic semi-random model that resembles the model in smoothed analysis, (2) we consider many coalitional influence problems, including coalitional manipulation, margin of victory, and various vote controls and bribery, and (3) we consider arbitrary and variable coalition size $B$. Our main theorem provides asymptotically tight bounds on the semi-random likelihood of the existence of a size-$B$ coalition that can successfully influence the election under a wide range of voting rules. Applications of the main theorem and its proof techniques resolve long-standing open questions about the likelihood of coalitional manipulability under IC, by showing that the likelihood is $\Theta\left(\min\left\{\frac{B}{\sqrt n}, 1\right\}\right)$ for many commonly studied voting rules. The main technical contribution is a characterization of the semi-random likelihood for a Poisson multinomial variable (PMV) to be unstable, which we believe to be a general and useful technique with independent interest.
    Date: 2022–02
  7. By: Puppe, Clemens; Rollmann, Jana
    Abstract: We study the effect on the participation rate of employing different voting rules in the context of the problem to allocate a fixed monetary budget to two different public projects. Specifically, we compare the mean rule according to which the average of the individually proposed allocations is implemented with the median rule which chooses the allocation proposed by the median voter as the social outcome. We report the results of a field experiment in which subjects (students of KIT) could allocate money to fund two different public projects, the student's bike shop and a campus garden project. The treatment variable was the collective decision rule employed. While the mean and median rules have very different properties in theory, we found no significant treatment effect on the participation rate. Our results nevertheless shed important light on the use of different voting rules in the context of budget allocation in practice.
    Date: 2022
  8. By: Issa Dianda (CEDRES, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso); Idrissa Ouedraogo (CEDRES, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso); Jean de Dieu Goumbri (CEDRES, Koudougou, Burkina Faso)
    Abstract: This study investigates the effect of female political empowerment on gender equality in secondary school enrolment in a sample of 20 sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries over the period 2000-2017. Results from Ordinary Least Square (OLS) and Instrumental variable (IV)-Two-Stage Least Squares (2SLS) reveal that the gender gap in secondary education decreases with female political empowerment. Therefore, increasing the representation of women in politics is an important lever of economic policy to improve the secondary education of women, allowing them to be more productive and more fulfilled.
    Keywords: Women’s political empowerment, Gender equality; Secondary education enrolment; Sub-Saharan Africa
    Date: 2021–01

This nep-pol issue is ©2022 by Eugene Beaulieu. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.