Electoral Accountability, Distributive Conflict, and Information Aggregation
44 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2022 Last revised: 28 Mar 2023
Date Written: February 3, 2023
Models of electoral accountability typically assume a politician provides a public good. Yet in many contexts, elected officials distribute private goods among voters with conflicting interests. We present a formal model to analyze this situation. An elected official allocates a rivalrous good to a number of voters, who each observe their own allocation but neither others' allocations nor the official's action. Each voter’s challenge is to determine whether the incumbent stole from other voters when deciding to sack or retain the incumbent. This problem can be resolved if voters retain the incumbent probabilistically, so that the vote of any voter from whom the incumbent steals is effectively up-weighted. In this way, the election aggregates information analogously to the Condorcet jury theorem, despite the "correct answer" being an endogenous choice by a strategic actor. This analysis highlights a surprisingly close conceptual connection between electoral accountability models and the Condorcet jury theorem.
Keywords: electoral accountability, distributive politics, moral hazard, probabilistic voting, Condorcet jury theorem
JEL Classification: C72, D70, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation