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Ready to reform: How popular initiatives can be successful

Katharina E. Hofer, Christian Marti and Monika Bütler ()

European Journal of Political Economy, 2017, vol. 48, issue C, 16-39

Abstract: We study whether the number of signatures collected to qualify a popular initiative affects the probability of reforming the status quo. The initiative process is modeled as a sequential game under uncertainty: petitioners make an entry decision and collect signatures to qualify the initiative. Politicians decide about a political compromise – a counter proposal – after which petitioners have the option to withdraw the initiative before the vote. In equilibrium, politicians infer the initiative's popularity from the number of signatures and collection time. The more the initiative is perceived as a threat to the status quo, the more likely politicians come up with a counter proposal. Under certain conditions, petitioners have the incentive to collect more signatures than required for qualification to demonstrate high success probability.

Keywords: Direct democracy; Popular initiative; Voting; Signatures; Common learning (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Working Paper: Ready to Reform: How Popular Initiatives Can Be Successful (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: Ready to Reform: How Popular Initiatives Can Be Successful (2015) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2016.07.003

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