Unité mixte de recherche 7235

A theory of elite-biased democracies

Mathematical Social Sciences

Théorie économique, théorie des jeux et de la décision et économie expérimentale

112 - 159 - 166

2021

Paolo Melindi-Ghidi, Raouf Boucekkine, Rodolphe Desbordes

Elite-biased democracies are those democracies in which former political incumbents and their allies coordinate to impose part of the autocratic institutional rules in the new political regime. We document that this type of democratic transition is much more prevalent than the emergence of pure (popular) democracies in which the majority decides the new institutional rules. We then develop a theoretical model explaining how an elite-biased democracy may arise in an initially autocratic country. To this end, we extend the benchmark political transition model of Acemoglu and Robinson (2005) along two essential directions. First, population is split into majority versus minority groups under the initial autocratic regime. Second, the minority is an insider as it benefits from a more favourable redistribution by the autocrat. We derive conditions under which elite-biased democracies emerge and characterise them, in particular with respect to pure democracies. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mathsocsci.2021.03.007

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