Rules, Choice and Strategy
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Rules, Choice and Strategy The Political Economy of Italian Electoral Reform

The Political Economy of Italian Electoral Reform

  • The Locke Institute series

Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio

This topical book analyses the change of electoral rules in Italy from proportional representation toward plurality. While Italy is used as the illustrative case, the analysis has far-ranging theoretical and practical implications, and will therefore be of interest to academics and researchers of political economy, constitutionalism and public choice.
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Chapter 3: The Economics of Elections – A Review of the Literature

Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio


3. The economics of elections: a review of the literature The principle of democracy shines at its best through elections and is founded in the act of voting. As put forward by Anthony Downs (1957), the democratic method is the process of participation, specifically through voting, in the management of society, where voting is understood to include all the ancillary institutions (like parties and pressure groups) and social principles (like freedom and equality) that are necessary to render it significant. The scientific interest in studies analysing elections has been generally considered as deriving from contributions by political scientists and sociologists and, even today, many economists would argue that the issue of voting behaviour should be left out of their science. However, as Schram (1991) pointed out, there are three important reasons why economists should be interested in this field. First of all, let us recall the definition of economics given by Samuelson (1976): ‘Economics is the study of how people and society end up choosing, with or without the use of money, to employ scarce productive resources that could have alternative uses’. The study of elections seems to fall within this definition: ‘the “scarce productive resources” are those used by the government and those employed in the act of voting, and one of the ways in which people and society end up choosing is by voting’ (Schram, 1991). The second and third reasons are interrelated and based on the fact that these studies provide explanations...

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