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The lesser evil: executive accountability with partisan supporters

Miquel, Gerard Padro i and Snowberg, Erik (2012) The lesser evil: executive accountability with partisan supporters. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 24 (1). pp. 19-45. ISSN 0951-6298

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0951629811420895


We develop a model of electoral accountability with primaries. Prior to the general election, the supporters of each of two parties decide which candidates to nominate. We show that supporters suffer from a fundamental tension: while they want politicians who will faithfully implement the party's agenda in office, they need politicians who can win elections. Accountability to supporters fails when supporters fear that by punishing or rewarding their incumbent for her loyalty or lack thereof, they unintentionally increase the electoral prospects of the opposing party. Therefore, accountability decreases with the importance that supporters assign to the elections, and it breaks down in two cases. First, a popular incumbent safely defects as she knows she will be re-nominated. Second, an unpopular incumbent defects because she knows she will be dismissed even if she follows the party line. These behaviors are labeled impunity and damnation, respectively, and are illustrated with case studies.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 The authors
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D72 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2012 11:19
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:23

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