Working paper 08/192 - abstract

Corruption and Power in Democracies (PDF, 489kB)

Francesco Giovannoni and Daniel J. Seidmann

According to Acton: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We study the implications of Acton’s dictum in models where citizens vote (for three parties) and governments then form in a series of elections. In each election, parties have fixed tastes for graft, which affect negotiations to form a government if parliament hangs; but incumbency changes tastes across elections. We argue that combinations of Acton’s dictum with various assumptions about citizen sophistication and inter-party commitments generate tight and testable predictions which cover plausible dynamics of government formation in an otherwise stationary environment.