Using Re-election Thresholds to Curb Political Polarization
63 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 12, 2021
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: Suggested Citation