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A Theory of Political Entrenchment

Abstract : Can an incumbent political party increase its chances at re-election by implementing inefficient policies that harm its constituency? This paper studies the possibility of such a phenomenon, which we label political entrenchment. We use a two-party dynamic model of redistribution with probabilistic voting. Political entrenchment by the Left occurs only if incumbency rents are sufficiently high. Low-skill citizens may vote for this party even though they rationally expect the adoption of these policies. We discuss: the possibility of entrenchment by the Right; the scope for commitment to avoid entrenchment policies; and the effect of state capacity, income inequality and party popularity on the likelihood of entrenchment. We illustrate our theory with a number of historical examples.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 4:18:49 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:33:02 PM

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Gilles Saint-Paul, Davide Ticchi, Andréa Vindigni. A Theory of Political Entrenchment. The Economic Journal, 2016, 126 (593), pp.1238-1263. ⟨10.1111/ecoj.12215⟩. ⟨halshs-01380198⟩



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