A Political Theory of Populism
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER
Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
November 5, 2010
MIT Department of Economics Working Paper, Forthcoming
When voters fear that politicians may have a right-wing bias or that they may be influenced or corrupted by the rich elite, signals of true left-wing conviction are valuable. As a consequence, even a moderate politician seeking reelection choose policies to the left of the median voter as a way of signaling that he is not from the right (while truly right-wing politicians also signal by choosing moderate or even left-of-center policies). This leftist bias of policy is greater when the value of remaining in office is higher for the politician; when there is greater polarization between the policy preferences of the median voter and right-wing politicians; and when politicians are indeed likely to have a hidden right-wing agenda. We show that similar results apply when some politicians can be corrupted or influenced through other non-electoral means by the rich elite.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Date posted: November 5, 2010
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