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Tying the politicians’ hands: The optimal limits to representative democracy

Didier Laussel and Ngo Long

Journal of Public Economic Theory, 2020, vol. 22, issue 1, 25-48

Abstract: The citizen candidate models of democracy assume that politicians have their own preferences that are not fully revealed at the time of elections. We study the optimal delegation problem which arises between the median voter (the writer of the constitution) and the (future) incumbent politician under the assumption that not only the state of the world but also the politician's type (preferred policy) are the policy‐maker's private information. We show that it is optimal to tie the hands of the politician by imposing both a policy floor and a policy cap and delegating him/her the policy choice only in between the cap and the floor. The delegation interval is shown to be the smaller the greater is the uncertainty about the politician's type. These results are also applicable to settings outside the specific problem that our model addresses.

Date: 2020
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https://doi.org/10.1111/jpet.12388

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Working Paper: Tying the politicians’ hands: The optimal limits to representative democracy (2020)
Working Paper: Tying the Politicians’ Hands: The Optimal Limits to Representative Democracy (2019) Downloads
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