Contingent prize allocation and pivotal voting

Alastair Smith, Bruce Bueno De Mesquita

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Parties can elitcit widespread electoral support by making the distribution of prizes or rewards to groups of voters contingent upon electoral support. In addition to altering which party wins, a voter's choice also influences the distribution of prizes. This latter factor, referred to in this article as prize pivotalness, tends to be the dominant influence in vote choice. The desire to win prizes can induce voters to coalesce into a highly supportive group, even if they dislike the party's policies. Characterizing voting equilibria in this framework explains the rationale for the support of patronage parties, variance in voter turnout and the endogenous political polarization of groups in both established and new democracies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)371-392
    Number of pages22
    JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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