New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by José Casas Pardo and Pedro Schwartz
Chapter 3: Affective Public Choice
3. 1 Aﬀective public choice Frans van Winden INTRODUCTION The economic theory of political decision making, also labeled ‘public choice’ or ‘political economics’, has seen an impressive development over recent decades. It is no longer (strongly) contested that the motivations of political agents deciding on government policies are not fundamentally diﬀerent from those driving economic behavior in the private sector. But, what are these motivations, more precisely? Even allowing for the presence of people that are not only promoting their own narrow selﬁsh interests, the following phenomena are puzzling: 1. mass protests and mass voting even if those involved run a serious risk of losing their lives (recently in places such as Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon and Belorussia); the explosion of riots in the Paris suburbs; the socio-political impact of terrorism; suicide bombing; the maintenance of a costly monarchy with related national rituals in full-blown democracies where the monarch has no formal power; and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev removing his shoe and banging it on the table during a UN conference in 1960, calling Filipino delegate Lorenzo Sumulong ‘a jerk, a stooge and lackey of imperialism’. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The ﬁrst two phenomena are puzzling if one assumes, as in the theory of collective action, that political participation is the outcome of a rational cost–beneﬁt analysis. Why would people risk their lives in that case? And why all of a sudden these French riots, without any clear changes in the individual economic beneﬁts...
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