nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2024‒05‒27
thirteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu, University of Calgary

  1. Voting Under Salience Bias and Strategic Extremism By Günnur Ege Bilgin; Cavit Görkem Destan
  2. Opinion Polls, Turnout and the Demand for Safe Seats By Eleonora Alabrese; Thiemo Fetzer
  3. Public Policy Attitudes and Political Polarization in the Netherlands By Toshkov, Dimiter; Brummel, Lars; Carroll, Brendan; Yesilkagit, Kutsal
  4. Income Inequality and Political Polarization By Waldemar Marz
  5. Can growth heal the political divide? By Jon X. Eguia; Dimitrios Xefteris
  6. Citizenship Imaginaries and Electoral Mobilization in the Egyptian Uprising By Sobhy, Hania
  7. The political economy of financing climate policy – Evidence from the solar PV subsidy programs By Olivier de Groote; Axel Gautier; Frank Verboven
  8. Trade-offs and Triumphs: Examining the Commitment of Underrepresented Groups in Real-World Discussion Forums By Geisler, Alexander Matthias
  9. Peasants into Citizens: Suffrage Expansion and Mass Politics in France By Degrave, Anne; Lopez-Peceno, Alejandro; Rozenas, Arturas
  10. Political views regarding the war in Ukraine in an online dating experiment By Beloborodova, Anna
  11. TikTok and US Public Opinion By Kelley, Jonathan; Evans, MDR; Corday, Charlotte
  12. Oligarchs, Political Ties and Nomenklatura Capitalism: Introducing a New Dataset By Marandici, Ion
  13. The geography of EU discontent and the regional development trap By Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés; Dijkstra, Lewis; Poelman, Hugo

  1. By: Günnur Ege Bilgin; Cavit Görkem Destan
    Abstract: We present a model demonstrating politicians strategically adopt extreme positions even when the voters are homogeneous and moderate. We examine the behavior of voters and electoral candidates under the assumption that the salience of political issues affects voting decisions through voter preferences. Voters have limited attention, which is unintentionally captured by distinctive policies. We demonstrate that candidates who differ in their budget constraints and voters with such limited attention can account for extremist policies, even though voters are identical in their preferences. Subsequently, we examine the elections with decoy candidates unlikely to win. Even though these candidates do not attract the voters, they might still influence the election outcome by altering salience. Moreover, we provide experimental evidence that salience affects consumer preferences and election outcomes using a representative sample of Turkey's vote base.
    Keywords: salience bias, extremism
    JEL: D72 D91 C9
    Date: 2024–04
  2. By: Eleonora Alabrese; Thiemo Fetzer
    Abstract: Do opinion polls sway turnout and shape political competition in majoritarian systems? Can they strengthen the persistence of safe seats? Analysing national opinion polls during UK general elections and the perceived safeness of constituencies, we find that pre-election polls significantly affect voter turnout. Non-competitive elections predicted by national polls suppress turnout, especially in areas with low perceived electoral competition. This reinforces the advantage of trailing parties in their strongholds, potentially fuelling party demand for safe seats that may give rise to demands for gerrymandering. This can exacerbate spatial polarization of the electoral landscape, with implications for governance regarding opinion polling.
    Keywords: opinion polls, closeness, voters’ behaviour, first-past-the-post, UK general elections
    JEL: D72 P16
    Date: 2024
  3. By: Toshkov, Dimiter; Brummel, Lars; Carroll, Brendan; Yesilkagit, Kutsal
    Abstract: While the increasing relevance of political polarization for the well-established multi-party democracies of Western Europe is recognized, we still know relatively little about how the different dimensions of polarization interact in this setting. We focus on the question whether policy attitudes contribute to affective polarization beyond the effects of ideological positions, partisanship and perceptions of polarization levels. To study this question, we run a comprehensive survey of public policy attitudes and political polarization on a quota-representative sample of public opinion in South Holland in the Netherlands. The results provide strong evidence that people having divergent policy preferences are much more likely to show affective polarization towards parties and voters, on top of what ideology and party affiliation predict. Conversely, policy priority incongruence does not have the hypothesized association. While, on average, levels of affective polarization in the Netherlands are relatively low, perceptions of big and increasing polarization are widely shared and significantly associated with affect.
    Date: 2024–04–30
  4. By: Waldemar Marz
    Abstract: Value issues such as climate policy, immigration, or identity politics are among the most polarizing policy issues in the U.S. and other high-income countries. That polarization has been rising over the last decades. I investigate a novel channel of income inequality and political campaign contributions on party polarization on the value dimension that is independent of changing voter preferences. In a model of two-dimensional party competition, I show analytically how rising income inequality brings parties’ economic policies closer together if campaign contributions are an important factor for electoral success. This lets sensitive voter groups switch their party allegiance and pushes parties to try to distinguish themselves by increasingly focusing on value policy dimension. Income growth, a rising salience of the value issue, and low voter turnout exacerbate this polarization channel. The analysis suggests possible ways forward: 1) a stricter regulation of campaign finances and 2) framing climate primarily as an economic policy issue that puts distributional implications (and remedies) front and center.
    Keywords: political economy, climate policy, polarization, voting, values
    JEL: D63 H23 P16 Q52 Q54
    Date: 2024
  5. By: Jon X. Eguia; Dimitrios Xefteris
    Abstract: We introduce a notion of political polarization that takes into account not just the distance between agents’ preferred policies, but also the intensity of this preference. We refer to this notion as “political divide” and we quantify it as the monetary cost, as a share of the total economy, that an agent is willing to incur to attain its ideal policy rather than the policy preferred by another agent. Groups with a large political divide are more likely to fall into affective polarization and political conflict. Holding ideological preferences constant, we show that the link between growth and the political divide between two ideologically separate groups depends on the curvature of the utility over wealth, as measured by the coefficient of relative risk-aversion: if agents’ relative risk aversion is below one, economic growth reduces the political divide; whereas, if agents are very risk-averse, growth increase the divide, exhacerbating political conflict.
    Keywords: Polarization, risk-aversion
    JEL: D72 H20 E62
    Date: 2024–05–13
  6. By: Sobhy, Hania
    Abstract: Can campaign messaging propel candidates to the forefront of a historic election, despite poor political resources? In the first round of the 2012 Egyptian presidential elections, the two main pro-Revolution candidates, Sabahi and Futuh, jointly secured more votes than the ‘old regime’ and Muslim Brotherhood candidates possessing far superior resources, with Sabahi very close to entering the runoffs. Based on one-of-a-kind research with the two campaigns, this research note analyses the strategies of campaigners on the ground in translating the central tropes of the Revolution: freedom and social justice. It shows how campaigner perceptions of voter preferences shaped their messaging on issues of critical importance to democratization and to elections in global South contexts: clientelism, socioeconomic rights, public safety and political rights. To theorize the differentiated framings deployed by social movements, it develops the notion of “citizenship imaginaries, ” as a device for conceptualizing the differentiated lived experiences, narratives and emotions through which subjects orient themselves vis-à-vis the state as central to. It illustrates how progressive pro-democracy campaigners on the ground in Egypt spoke to dominant citizenship imaginaries by understating freedom, emphasizing security, improvising translations of social justice and evading revisionist readings of Islamism and state-socialism/ Nasserism.
    Date: 2024–04–26
  7. By: Olivier de Groote (TSE-R - Toulouse School of Economics - UT Capitole - Université Toulouse Capitole - UT - Université de Toulouse - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Axel Gautier (HEC Liège, Université de Liège); Frank Verboven (Department of Economics [Leuven] - KU Leuven - Catholic University of Leuven = Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
    Abstract: We analyze the political impact of a generous solar panel subsidization program. Subsidies far exceeded their social benefit and were partly financed by new taxes on adopters and by electricity surcharges for all consumers. We use local panel data from Belgium and find a decrease in votes for government parties in municipalities with high adoption rates. This shows that the voters' punishment for a costly policy exceeded the potential reward by adopters who received generous subsidies. Further analysis indicates that punishment mainly comes from non-adopters, who change their vote towards anti-establishment parties.
    Keywords: Photovoltaic systems, Retrospective voting, Financing climate policy
    Date: 2024
  8. By: Geisler, Alexander Matthias (University of Genva)
    Abstract: Past research has shown that favorable opinion climates in host countries and opportunity structures reinforce each other to enable the political participation of marginalized communities. However, few studies examine the discursive participation of the underrepresented beyond parties, elections, or involvement in associations. We contribute a novel assessment of whether democratic innovations' promise to make marginalized voices heard is realistic or overstated by investigating the commitment of locally enfranchised immigrants, immigrant-origin citizens, women, the youth, people of low-income and the lower educated to deliberate with one another. Inviting two large samples (N=3000 each) of registered voters of the Swiss canton of Geneva from 2020 and 2021 to two real-world deliberative forums, we find that immigrants with the local right to vote and immigrant-origin citizens were more than twice as likely as their native peers to participate in two in-person deliberative assemblies with fellow residents and citizens. Low-income people were also more likely to participate, while we did not found any substantially increased discursive participation of women. The lower-educated and less politically active were less likely to commitment to discursive participation. These results showcase the potential trade-offs of hybrid democratic innovations for the discursive integration of underrepresented groups in Western democracies more generally.
    Date: 2024–04–29
  9. By: Degrave, Anne; Lopez-Peceno, Alejandro; Rozenas, Arturas
    Abstract: The rise of mass politics is conventionally attributed to state expansion and economic modernization. We propose a complementary institutional explanation, highlight-ing how the expansion of voting rights politicizes the general public and enhances their mobilization capacity. To test this argument, we use discontinuous variation in suffrage levels in the French local elections during the July Monarchy (1830-1848). Communes with more suffrage later showed a heightened interest in public affairs, capacity for collective mobilization, and opposition to autocracy. Even when intro-duced and practiced in an autocratic system, the right to vote seems to encourage the development of a pro-democratic mass public.
    Date: 2024–04
  10. By: Beloborodova, Anna
    Abstract: How polarized is Russian society regarding the war in Ukraine? Political views affect various behaviors, including relationship formation. This study conducts a field experiment on a large Russian dating site and gathers data from over 3, 000 profile evaluations. The findings reveal significant penalties for those who express pro-war or anti-war positions on their dating profiles. Age emerges as the most polarizing factor: younger individuals are less likely to approach pro-war profiles but not anti-war ones, whereas older individuals are less likely to respond positively to profiles indicating anti-war views but not pro-war ones. The results align with survey evidence of a positive relationship between respondents' age and expressed support for the war in Russia, although the experiment indicates a higher degree of polarization. Overall, the experimental findings demonstrate that survey data can reveal trends and relationships between individuals' characteristics and their opinions, but may overstate the levels of support for government agendas in non-democratic states.
    Keywords: affective polarization; relationship formation; assortative mating; field experiment; war in Ukraine
    JEL: C93 D1 J12
    Date: 2023–10–13
  11. By: Kelley, Jonathan; Evans, MDR; Corday, Charlotte
    Abstract: We provide some basic facts from survey data about TikTok usage and make sound estimates of its influence on US public opinion and voting intention. The data are from nationwide mTurk samples, weighted to reflect the population’s age, education, and religious upbringing. Role-players are omitted. These 2020-2021 surveys contain a wide range of important control variables. TikTok usage spanned the full spectrum from never-users (62%) to avid users, using TikTok multiple times per day (8%). TikTok users tend to hold stronger religious beliefs, to have been reared in upper working class or middle class homes, to be men, and to be Black. All those differences are mild tendencies rather than yawning gulfs. TikTok users tend also to use other social media (correlations), most especially SnapChat. These pre-existing differences demand multivariate analysis to isolate the unique influence of TickTok on public opinion. To this end, we use regression analyses controlling for an extensive panoply of influences which could be confounded with TikTok usage. The more people used TikTok the higher their evaluations of BOTH the Democrats and Republicans handling of the Covid epidemic (a key issue at the time). That holds after regression filters out the effect of the others influences, including a general propensity to use social media. Note that the measure of TikTok usage is general (not focused on news or politics). Nearly every other variable that influences public opinion on party-political issues, lifts evaluations of one party and depresses evaluations of the other. Moreover, TikTok users are more confident and trusting of government and major health-related institutions. For reasons not yet clear, TikTok usage warmed users feelings toward Joe Biden, but did not affect their feelings about Donald Trump one way or the other.
    Date: 2024–04–22
  12. By: Marandici, Ion
    Abstract: This article examines the relationship between nomenklatura membership, wealth accumulation and political ties across the post-Soviet region from the 1990s up to the mid-2010s. It introduces the Post-Soviet Oligarchs (PSO) dataset, containing the sociodemographic characteristics of the super-rich across the former Soviet republics. While the article finds partial support in favour of the nomenklatura capitalism hypothesis, statistical analysis also points to distinct regional patterns of wealth and political inequality. Thus, the most extensive overlap of wealth and power is observed in the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia and the South Caucasus, where ties to the Soviet regime facilitated the exertion of political influence after 1991, enabling in turn wealth accumulation. By contrast, in democratising contexts, the connections between politicians and super-rich point to a mutually dependent relationship between the economic and political realms, with wealth featuring as a major power resource.
    Keywords: oligarchs; nomenklatura capitalism; wealthy elites; post-Soviet region; democracy; wealth inequality; authoritarianism; economic transition; billionaires
    JEL: N00 O1 P2 P20 P26 P31 P36 P48 P52 Y10
    Date: 2024
  13. By: Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés; Dijkstra, Lewis; Poelman, Hugo
    Abstract: While in recent times many regions have flourished, many others are stuck—or are at risk of becoming stuck—in a development trap. Such regions experience decline in economic growth, employment, and productivity relative to their neighbors and to their own past trajectories. Prolonged periods in development traps are leading to political dissatisfaction and unrest. Such discontent is often translated into support for antisystem parties at the ballot box. In this article we study the link between the risk, intensity, and duration of regional development traps and the rise of discontent in the European Union (EU)—proxied by the support for Eurosceptic parties in national elections between 2013 and 2022—using an econometric analysis at a regional level. The results highlight the strong connection between being stuck in a development trap, often in middle- or high-income regions, and support for Eurosceptic parties. They also suggest that the longer the period of stagnation, the stronger the support for parties opposed to European integration. This relationship remains robust whether considering only the most extreme Eurosceptic parties or including parties with more moderate levels of Euroscepticism.
    Keywords: discontent; euroscepticism; development trap; economic growth; employment; productivity; regions; EU; Taylor & Francis deal
    JEL: D72 R58 R11
    Date: 2024–04–17

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