Do Elections lead to Informed Public Decisions?


Democracies delegate substantial decision power to politicians. Using a model in which an incumbent can design, examine and implement public policies, we show that examination takes place in spite of, rather than thanks to, elections. Elections are needed as a carrot and a stick to motivate politicians, yet politicians who are overly interested in re-election shy away from policy examination. Our analysis sheds light on the distance created in mature democracies between the political process and the production of policy relevant information; on the role played by probing into candidates’ past; and on the possibility of crowding out desirable political behaviour by increasing the value of holding office. ∗We are grateful to seminar participants at Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Amsterdam and University of Bologna for comments. Please send correspondence to Bauke Visser, Dep of Economics, H 7 -20, Erasmus University Rotterdam, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. † ‡

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Swank2003DoEL, title={Do Elections lead to Informed Public Decisions?}, author={Otto H. Swank and Bauke Visser}, year={2003} }