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Political realism and models of the state: Antonio de Viti de Marco and the origins of public choice

Michele Giuranno () and Manuela Mosca ()

Public Choice, 2018, vol. 175, issue 3, No 7, 325-345

Abstract: Abstract It is well known that one of the features of public choice, political realism, is embedded in a time-honored Italian tradition going back to Machiavelli and perpetuated by G. Mosca and V. Pareto in their political and sociological writings. The scientific spirit, which in their era led to the foundation of various social disciplines, fostered the application of economic analysis to the political sphere. In that context, Antonio de Viti de Marco (1858–1943) formulated an economic model of the state, consisting of two types of constitutional extremes: the absolute state and the democratic state. We ask herein how that model may be reconciled to G. Mosca and Pareto’s theory of the ruling class, with which De Viti de Marco agreed. Finally, we analyze his political writings in order to reconstruct his interpretation of collusion, rent seeking and “clientelism”, i.e., the redistribution of extracted rent, which takes place in the form of discretionary allocations of public jobs, public contracts and other corporative favors. Collusion is the use of democratic institutions by the ruling classes in order to gain monopoly power. While collusion is the basis of rent creation, rent extraction is not the final goal of politicians; rather, it is a means of strengthening electoral support.

Keywords: Democracy; Collusion; Rent seeking; Clientelism; Marginalism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B10 D72 H11 H79 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1007/s11127-018-0539-z

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