Using Re-election Thresholds to Curb Political Polarization

63 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2021

See all articles by Hans Gersbach

Hans Gersbach

ETH Zurich - CER-ETH -Center of Economic Research; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Philippe Muller

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich

Oriol Tejada

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 12, 2021

Abstract

We examine how tightening reelection hurdles for incumbents can curb political polarization and increase welfare. We use a two-period model in which a politician is elected for office in the first period and enacts a new policy. In the second period, elections take place between the incumbent and a challenger, and the winning candidate chooses the extent to which the first-period policy is reformed. Reforming a policy is costly, and such costs increase with the policy shift and are borne by parties and voters. We show that raising the vote-share needed for re-election above one half reduces policy polarization and increases welfare. Moreover, the latter measures depend on the re-election threshold in a non-monotonic way and a particular (intermediate) threshold simultaneously minimizes policy polarization and maximizes welfare.

Keywords: elections, political polarization, costs of change, re-election hurdles

JEL Classification: C72, D72, D78, H4

Suggested Citation

Gersbach, Hans and Muller, Philippe and Tejada, Oriol, Using Re-election Thresholds to Curb Political Polarization (April 12, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3824653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3824653

Hans Gersbach

ETH Zurich - CER-ETH -Center of Economic Research ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
Zurich, 8092
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

Philippe Muller

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich ( email )

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Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

Oriol Tejada (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland
41446329693 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cer.ethz.ch/mip/people/toriol

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