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Title: Using Re-election Thresholds to Curb Political Polarization

Author(s): Hans Gersbach, Philippe Muller and Oriol Tejada

Publication Date: April 2021

Keyword(s): costs of change, Elections, Political Polarization and re-election hurdles

Programme Area(s): Organizational Economics and Public Economics

Abstract: We examine how tightening reelection hurdles for incumbents can curb political polarization and increase welfare. We use a two-period model in which a politician is elected for office in the first period and enacts a new policy. In the second period, elections take place between the incumbent and a challenger, and the winning candidate chooses the extent to which the first-period policy is reformed. Reforming a policy is costly, and such costs increase with the policy shift and are borne by parties and voters. We show that raising the vote-share needed for re-election above one half reduces policy polarization and increases welfare. Moreover, the latter measures depend on the re-election threshold in a non-monotonic way and a particular (intermediate) threshold simultaneously minimizes policy polarization and maximizes welfare.

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Bibliographic Reference

Gersbach, H, Muller, P and Tejada, O. 2021. 'Using Re-election Thresholds to Curb Political Polarization'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16037