Issue Unbundling Via Citizens' Initiatives

44 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2001

See all articles by Timothy J. Besley

Timothy J. Besley

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Stephen Coate

Cornell University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2001

Abstract

The role of citizens' intitiatives figures prominantly in contemporary debates on constitutional change. A basic question is why are initiatives necessary in a representative democracy where candidates must already compete for the right to control policy? This Paper offers one answer to this question. In a representative democracy, the bundling of issues, together with the fact that citizens have only one vote, means that policy outcomes on specific issues may diverge far from what the majority of citizens want. In such circumstances, allowing citizens to put legislation directly on the ballot permits the 'unbundling' of these issues, which forces a closer relationship between policy outcomes and popular preferences. To the extent that it is condsidered socially undesirable for outcomes on specific issues to stray too far from what the majority wants, this creates a role for citizens initiatives.

Keywords: Direct democracy, citizens' initiatives

JEL Classification: D70, H10

Suggested Citation

Besley, Timothy J. and Coate, Stephen, Issue Unbundling Via Citizens' Initiatives (June 2001). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=275032

Timothy J. Besley (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7955 6702 (Phone)
+44 20 7955 6951 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Stephen Coate

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

414 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7601
United States
607-255-1912 (Phone)
607-205-2818 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
22
Abstract Views
2,705
PlumX Metrics