Political Norms

44 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2021 Last revised: 16 Oct 2021

See all articles by Giovanna Maria Invernizzi

Giovanna Maria Invernizzi

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Michael Ting

Columbia University

Date Written: July 21, 2021


Recent political developments around the world have focused attention on the fraying of political norms, often understood as informal restraints on opportunistic behavior. This paper presents a theory of political norms that incorporates both ideology and institutional structure. In the model, an election determines which party holds office in each period over an infinite horizon. Each period presents the majority party with an opportunity to modify a status quo policy, but its ability to do so is limited by informal norms and formal institutional barriers. We show that greater institutional constraints do not necessarily make norms more sustainable, and that norms may be asymmetric in electorally imbalanced settings. Under optimal norms, increasing ideological polarization makes norms easier to uphold, while also reducing welfare. Finally, norms upheld by minority parties are less sustainable in equilibrium, and voter optimal norms require minority concessions to achieve greater electoral competitiveness.

Suggested Citation

Invernizzi, Giovanna Maria and Ting, Michael, Political Norms (July 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3891131 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3891131

Giovanna Maria Invernizzi (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Michael Ting

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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