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Policy Reforms and the Amount of Checks & Balances

Hans Gersbach (), Oriol Tejada () and Julia Wagner ()
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Oriol Tejada: Faculty of Economics and Business Universitat de Barcelona Diagonal 690-696 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Julia Wagner: CER-ETH – Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich and CEPR Zuerichbergstrasse 18 8092 Zurich, Switzerland

No 22/373, CER-ETH Economics working paper series from CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich

Abstract: We examine how democracies choose their amount of checks and balances (C&B). For this purpose, we consider a simple model of political competition with costly policy reforms. The cost of a marginal reform is determined endogenously at the constitutional phase—i.e. before policies are chosen—through the choice of (the amount of) C&B. We characterize the set of stable C&B for different constitutional rules which vary depending on (i) who has the power to propose changes to C&B and (ii) on the qualified majority used for approving such changes. Our main results show that stable C&B always exist, are never zero, lead to gridlock, and are higher if the proposal-maker is the party in government. We also find that higher majority requirements for constitutional changes and more polarized societies are conducive to larger sets of stable C&B.

Keywords: elections; democracy; political polarization; reform costs; constitutions; checks and balances (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 D72 D78 H4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42 pages
Date: 2022-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-mic and nep-pol
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